For the last ten years, I’ve focused my attention on the manner in which Capitalism and Globalization have come to dominate 21st Century reality.
I’ve made projects about our food supply, relationship with nature, the way our possessions pile up to eventually become trash, and now, I’m examining the way “play” has become commodified as well.
“Party City is the Devil” points a critical eye at the party supply industry, as I’m presenting these photographs as a metaphor for absurdist over-consumption in late-Capitalist America.
In 2016, I began shopping at Party City, the world’s largest party supply conglomerate, with over 900 stores in North America alone. Though it began modestly in New Jersey, (as I did,) Party City has become a massive provider of candy-colored plastic and paper goods, along with actual candy.
One imagines their supply chain, with Saudi Arabian oil being processed, shipped to China, where it’s combined with toxic chemicals to create pop-inspired, injection-mold objects that are then shipped back to the US, where they end up in a landfill at the end of Timmy’s second birthday party.
I spent a year and a half shopping, choosing objects for their symbolic resonance, then photographing the toys, hats & forks in my studio, using only natural light. The backdrops are plastic tablecloths from Party City as well, so all the colors are “real,” though they read more appropriately as “hyperreal.”
Jonathan Blaustein is an artist, writer, and educator based in Taos, New Mexico. He received his MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute in 2004, and has exhibited his work widely in galleries and museums the US, and in festivals in Europe as well.
His photographs reside in several important collections, including the Library of Congress, the State of New Mexico, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Jonathan is a regular contributor to the popular blog A Photo Editor, as well as the New York Times Lens blog, and has also written about art and photography online for The New Yorker, VICE, and Hyperallergic. He has taught photography for many years, and recently founded the Antidote Photo Retreat at his family horse farm outside Taos.