The work of Hungarian photographer Kata Geibl is centered in visually exploring global issues, capitalism, and collective memory. Her ongoing series ‘There is nothing new under the sun’ is an extension of this interest; the images investigate the influence of capitalism on the individual and on the planet.
The title of the series borrows from a line from Ecclesiastes 1:11, one of the 24 texts that make up the Hebrew Bible that was later translated and consigned as part of the Old Testament in Christianity:
“A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down and hastens to the place where it rises… All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”
There is an uncanny timelessness to this passage when we consider the state of humanity under our present-day capitalist model. The effects that consumerism has on us—in particular the unending dissatisfaction with what we have, and the pollution and degradation of the planet—cannot be understated. “We crave perfectionism and at the same time use the Earth’s resources as if there is no tomorrow,” explains Geibl to IGNANT. “Frederic Jameson once said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” she states. “The myth of society is that if we work hard enough, we can become ‘somebody’. This kind of individualism has led to the belief that we think that the world exists for the benefit of mankind.”
The images in the series tie in thematically to the aforementioned epigram: searching for the meaning of life in an otherwise meaningless world. Far from nihilism though, ‘There is nothing new under the sun’ delves deeper into this concept. With shoots in Hungary, London, and the Austrian Alps, the viewer must really stop and consider each frame on its own: who are the victims, and who are the perpetrators? And can capitalism really be stopped? “As an artist, I always try to reflect on our contemporary culture and the world we live in, to mirror what happens in our society,” explains Geibl. “Without laying answers out to the viewer, the series guides their mind and creativity into the direction of the story behind the images. I believe we all can feel the rise of this new era, even if we lack words to describe it.”