Sustainable Path Foundation recognizes Chris Jordan, an internationally acclaimed artist and cultural activist based in Seattle, as one of our Trailblazers -raising awareness about the unintended consequences on our environment of the combined individual actions of 300 million people.
Chris Jordan’s work asks us to consider our own roles in becoming stewards of our world and explores contemporary mass culture from a variety of photographic and conceptual perspectives, connecting the viewer viscerally to the enormity and power of humanity’s collective will.
Walking the edge between art and activism, beauty and horror, abstraction and representation, the near and the far, the visible and the invisible, photographer Chris Jordan trains his eye on American consumption. He shows us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like by starting with a statistic — say, the 2 million plastic beverage bottles used in the United States every five minutes — and creating an image that translates those astonishing numbers into something you can see at a glance.. His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics — like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day.
Jordan uses everyday commonalities such as a plastic cup and defines the blind unawareness involved in American consumerism. His work, while often unsettling, is a bold message about unconscious behaviors in our everyday lives, leaving it to the viewer to draw conclusions about the inevitable consequences which will arise from our habits.
“As you walk up close, you can see that the collective is only made up of lots and lots of individuals. There is no bad consumer over there somewhere who needs to be educated. There is no public out there who needs to change. It’s each one of us.”
Chris Jordan on Bill Moyers Journal
Jordan’s work can be grouped in the following series:
Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption (2003–2006) A series of large format photographs 2005 depicting the magnitude of America’s waste and consumption.
In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster (2005) A series of photographs taken in 2005 depicting the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Running The Numbers I: An American Self Portrait (2006–2009) A series of photographic mosaics depicting visualizations of statistics related to America’s consumerism, social problems, and addictions.
Running the Numbers II: Portraits of global mass culture (2009–2010) A series of photographic mosaics depicting visualizations of statistics showing the magnitude of global consumerism.
Midway: Message from the Gyre (2009–ongoing) A series of photographs depicting decaying carcasses of baby Laysan albatrosses filled with plastic. These birds nest on Midway Atoll and are being fed plastic by their parents, who find floating plastic in the middle of the ocean and mistake it for food. This is part of an ongoing arts and media project called Midway Journey, which has its own website.