“These kinds of markets are the reminder how the lifeless Western shopping experience has transformed purchase of food, clothing and goods, by and large, into a pretty vacant slog in the hypermarket Costco’s, Walmart’s and Tesco’s of Western capitalism’s lifeforce and blood sucking, perpetual drive towards our oblivion.”
“Another white guy takes photos in Africa so let’s make a big fuckin’ deal out of it.” I quipped to myself, after hearing the back story of Lorenzo Vitturi’s Money Must Be Made on Self Publish Be Happy. But placing my frustrations on representational bias aside and in all seriousness, for me, Vitturi’s work promised much after Dalston Anatomy’s beautifully simple, sculptural awesomeness, I really couldn’t wait to look through this book.
Post DA (ASX review here), Vitturi expressed an interest in a project that formed the basis of its “negative” in Africa, whereby he would address the image of Western consumerism somewhere in Western Africa. In MMBM I think he fully achieved this aim, if not surpassed it in merging a study of a disused and abandoned financial building with the organic vibrancy of a market, both in Lagos, Nigeria. The project was brought about through a residency and Vitturi made short work of what has become a signature style in his practice: dissecting the city market’s quotidian produce. It is an aesthetic examination of the material of everyday life that barely impinges on representational issues and I love that about it.
“It is an aesthetic examination of the material of everyday life that barely impinges on representational issues and I love that about it.”
Vitturi’s use of market food and produce is that which is purchased from streetside stalls, as is the woven material later worn by women with colourful exuberance. That this is embedded in the images he creates without the need to show people’s faces is plenty acknowledgment of love and labor that hands farm, grow, weave, craft and sow, that feet carry, pedal, haul and transport to that vital and vibrant place of social and economic exchange: the market. These kinds of markets are a reminder of how the lifeless Western shopping experience has transformed the purchase of food, clothing and goods, by and large, into a pretty vacant slog in the hypermarket Costco’s, Walmart’s and Tesco’s of Western capitalism’s lifeforce and blood sucking, perpetual drive towards our oblivion.
This is highlighted by Vitturi in the images of the decaying finance building, dead with the life sapped out of them, with their grey, dusty, discarded remains useless to anyone in Lagos with the irony that there is no money to be made in them, anymore. Vitturi shows us the hope that ultimately life always continues despite economic death and that we the people will always overcome the corporate bulldozer that threatens to wipe out our humanity. The essence of this is to be found in street markets. This is how it’s always been and all we need is to invest in using markets and buying local produce again.
Lorenzo Vitturi’s Money Must Be Made opens at Flowers Gallery in London on 11th May and continues until 30th June 2018.
(All Rights Reserved. Text @ Sunil Shah. Images @ Lorenzo Vitturi.)