From American photographer and documentary filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth is an extraordinary visual history of our growing obsession with wealth, a companion piece of sorts to her award-winning 2012 doc The Queen of Versailles. Here, Greenfield weaves two and a half decades of work into an epic narrative and cultural document of capitalism, which will also be accompanied by a book and exhibition.
Through first-person interviews, her journey begins in Los Angeles before spreading across America and beyond to show how ‘values’ of materialism, social status and highly sexualised celebrity culture are now exported to every corner of the globe.
We hear the stories of students, single parents, and families overwhelmed by crushing debt yet still determined to purchase luxury houses, cars and clothes. We observe the lifestyles and rituals of the international elite from Bel-Air to Monaco, Russia to China. We gain intimate access into the lives of those who rose to extraordinary wealth before losing ‘big’ during the 2008 crash, and encounter celebrities from social media and reality TV, the influencers who shape our consumer desires.
In an era when the US president rose to power via a curious double-act of flaunting his (alleged) billions while simultaneously claiming to be the champion of the forgotten men and women of America, and as societies across the globe continue to see a widening divide between the very rich and the very poor, Generation Wealth feels particularly necessary and timely; a provocative exploration of the complex and contradictory psychosocial desires beneath our quest for riches.