The New Riches – Conspicuous Corona Consumption
The experience of panic buying leads to people re-evaluating what they appreciate in everyday life. Once an item becomes scarce, it is definitely more appreciated than ever before! I know this because I had to search six different supermarkets for toilet paper and other basic products when the stores were sold out. Germany made Klopapier great again! In times of crisis, the regular commodities that were once easily accessible are now a symbol for success and hope. They’re cherished in much the same way as expensive luxury items like Rolexes or Vuitton bags would be – but without the hefty price tag. Welcome to conspicuous corona consumption! Everyday items became luxury goods. It’s time to look at your everyday objects with fresh eyes.
Panic buying is a vicious cycle. The more we buy, the worse things get as stores run out of products and shelves are left empty. However, when this happens people re-evaluate what they appreciate in everyday life and suddenly that item becomes priceless! I know because I was in Germany during their Klopapier shortage from last year where toilet paper became scarce for all Germans (including myself). You can imagine how important it was to find some at any price – so much so that most shops had lines down the block just for toilet paper alone. And now? Now it’s not worth anything anymore! We have an abundance of everything here which means no one remembers why they needed something before or what made them panic purchase items.
With this in mind I created The New Riches, an art series that examines how everyday household items can become status symbols during periods of crisis. By photographing everyday items like soap, toilet paper and noodles that were scarce when shelves at stores became empty overnight and prices skyrocketed for supplies. These photos revealed how quickly our lives can change.