By Terence O'Toole Murnin
On the eve of publishing Generation Wealth, the highly anticipated book and accompanying mid-career retrospective exhibition from acclaimed photographer and documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield AB '87, Harvardwood zooms in close for the inside scoop.
Q. What can you tell us about Generation Wealth?
A. The book will be released on May 15, and its creation has really dominated the last eight years of my life. It’s certainly a document of our consumerism, and how we exported these values, especially after the financial crash of 2008. I traveled the world—from California, to Iceland and Dubai—and on to China where in a post-communist era, I witnessed a mad dash for wealth and luxury.
This clash of values where everyone now desires to be a part of the aristocracy also led to gender and body issues. Girls are commodified and the “Princess Myth” has led to an acceptance of prostitution as a way to obtain money and success. Brooke Taylor and the acceptance of high-end brothels as potential career tracks are signs of a cultural shift where fame is now a value.Read more
Lauren Greenfield '87 (Photojournalist & Director)
By Sara Melson '90
Lauren Greenfield '87 picked up her first camera at her alternative elementary school, Area D, and continued to develop a passion for photography that grew over childhood and throughout high school. From the beginning, she was drawn to photograph people and real situations, observing culture from her own unique perspective. Still, says Lauren, "I never considered myself an artist.” Then, over the course of her junior year at Harvard, an international honors program afforded her an opportunity to travel the world with a select group of students and faculty mentors for nine months, intensively studying film and anthropology both on screen and in the field, and interfacing with luminaries from museums and film institutes in each country. This trip was "life-changing” according to Lauren.
"We watched many indigenous films, and we met with amazing directors. It was on that trip that I realized my calling. I wasn't sure if it would be sociology, film, photography, or anthropology, but looking at culture was my calling. When I got back to Harvard, I switched my major from Social Studies to Visual Studies. I soon realized that theory wasn't my medium, and I moved toward filmmaking and photography. The work from that year has really influenced my photography. I even met my husband, Frank Evers '87, in Vienna during that fateful trip.”Read more