Ateneo Art Award winner Kawayan de Guia’s return exhibit “Bored on the Fourth of July” documents and depicts the artist’s reactions and experiences on seeing a country of excess. It’s the product of his solitary walk along Route 66 in America while he was, as the name of his exhibit goes, bored on the 4th of July. It’s about the land of milk and honey, and the treadmill of consumption that he saw with his very own eyes.
The artist focused on America’s seemingly insatiable drive to consume. He also touched on the country’s heavy penchant for advertising and marketing when he paired popular tag lines with photos he took during his walk. The artist also focused on the same consumption pattern he saw upon arriving to the Philippines.
What I like about this exhibit is how it enriches my understanding of the materialist view of the environment. From what I remember in my Environment, Culture and Society class, the materialist view of the environment zooms in on society’s patterns of production and consumption. Both production and consumption are inter-related. With slick advertising and marketing by businesses, people are led to consume more. When people consume more, demand surges, so businesses produce more. More production means more products to choose from in the market, which further fuels consumption. Eventually, you don’t know where to draw the line between production and consumption anymore.
Simply put, economics, profit maximization, and materialism make the world go round. This world view strains the earth and wipes out our resources (especially the resources of the third world countries). In this view, the earth is merely a resource to be utilized for money and material satisfaction. The materialist view does not take into account the circle of life, the sacredness of nature, nor the idea of “finding God in all things.”
Kawayan de Guia’s “Bored on the 4th of July” runs at the Ateneo Art Gallery until March 15, 2010. I also wrote an article about this exhibit at the Ateneo Website.