Luxury as a path to sustainability?

29 Apr

Contemporary artist Stephanie Senge, Munich, visits issues of consumerism, appreciation and affluence again and again in her work. In one project (Tüten-Demo für den Wohlstand) she used shopping bags as a communication medium for social taboos such as our prosperity. About 20 retail stores put their customers’ purchases in Senge’s special shoppers one summer’s day: Shoppers that sported messages designed to make passers-by and fellow-shoppers rethink consumerism and wealth.

In another series Senge uses ancient cultural techniques such as Japanese ikebana or Tibetan Buddhist mandalas to create consumer-ikebanas or consumer-mandalas, made with cheap everyday-items.

Luxury as a path to sustainability? Most of us do not think of luxury when we think of sufficiency, downshifting or voluntary simplicity. Yet Senge, Bazon Brock and Wolfgang Ullrich used specially made pure gold chopsticks to interpret environmental care. If chopstick users in Asia (or elsewhere) were given chopsticks of gold, forests would not need to suffer continued losses and these valuable items would be passed on down the generations. The trio thus created the Convent of the Ascetics of Luxury. Voluntary Simplicity does not need to mean Voluntary Poverty?

golden chop sticks

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