Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


We can afford...better gifts

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I love the holidays. The cooler air, the smell of pine, and all the food in family gatherings, but what I don't like as much is the strange pressure to purchase little trinkets or large, grand gifts so our loved ones know they're remembered.

Giving is a great feeling, but don't you ever find yourself wondering if spending for stuff that people might not even need is the best way to show your appreciation? If all the things we spend on are really worth it?

Those questions, and many others about our current culture of consumerism, bubbled to the surface while I was leafing through Los Angeles artist Bonnie Ebner's "We can afford better" at the Ooga Twooga's Artist’s Books and Cookies event early this year.

Ebner paired a commercial quality natural photographs with tired marketing slogans we're constantly exposed to and the result is pure provocation. These marketing call to actions to buy, to gratify, are turned on their heads because of the beautiful, pristine images in their background. Ebner's book was beautiful and tragic at the same time.

Copyright 2014, Bonnie Ebner, used with permission

Copyright 2014, Bonnie Ebner, used with permission

Copyright 2014, Bonnie Ebner, used with permission

So, this holiday season, instead of taking out our wallets and succumbing to what sociologist Marcel Mauss identified as the threefold nature of gifting (or what I call the gift's vicious circle)--in which gifting involves an obligation to give, to accept, and to reciprocate--let's figure out what other immaterial gifts can result in happier, more precious holidays, whose memories will last long after the last trace of pine waft out of our living rooms.

In case some of you are interested in copies of Bonnie's book. Please get in touch with her using her website's contact form.


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