“‘Materialism’ confronts the viewer on a very elementary level with the things we surround ourselves with and the materials that comprise them,” explains the studio, founded by Dutch artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta. The studio reprocessed man-made items including a Volkswagen Beetle car, a Gazelle bicycle, a Russian AK-47 machine gun, and an iPhone 4 among other objects, in a process they refer to as ‘de-producing’—pulling apart the kind of items that we tend to only focus on their function. The products are reduced to the exact quantity of the specific raw materials from which they are made; they are then shown in the form of the rectangular blocks pictured below. The studio has conceptualized this so as to make an artistic commentary on the amount of natural resources and human labor needed in the manufacturing of each item’s production, something the studio believes we fail to properly appreciate or understand. In their own words that follow, they elaborate:
“Everything that is bought and consumed has an impact, reinforcing complex systems of resource extraction, labor, manufacturing, and distribution. ‘Materialism’ works to reveal the dimensions of the materialism these systems feed, illuminating the excessive use of the earth’s gifts, irreplaceable matter that humans incessantly rip away from it, squander, and then dispose of with little thought. Understood this way, in pursuit of the most basic things, like a pencil or a plastic water bottle, people are collectively acting as a deviant child stealing from his mother.