Highlights from Lauren Greenfield’s “Generation Wealth” press tour: “In so many ways, Trump and his rise was the apotheosis of Generation Wealth”

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“I did not expect Trump to win the election, but when he did, it was kind of like the content of this work, of the 25 years, bearing out. In so many ways, Trump and his rise was the apotheosis of Generation Wealth. There were so many commonalities between him and David Siegel [one of the main subjects in Greenfield’s documentary, The Queen of Versailles, about a wealthy family before, during, and after the financial crisis], from the love for gold and the aesthetic of luxury, to the owning beauty pageants, to beautiful women in their personal life being an expression of their success, to making money in real estate. That’s more for Trump than for David Siegel, but certainly a theme in the book, the power of celebrity. But I think in terms of the populist part, there’s a quote from Fran Lebowitz that I put in the front of the book about how Americans don’t resent the rich because they always imagine that will be them someday. I think that is part of the admiration for Trump. Unlike some other cultures that resent the rich or resent the upper class, Americans admire wealth.” (Read the full article in The Atlantic.)

 

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Click to listen to the interview with Monocle.

 

“The title [of the book] also refers to this kind of breaking with the values of a past generation, against the backdrop of the great income inequality that we have now. The fact that so much of the wealth is concentrated in so few, and that we no longer have the social mobility that used to define the American dream, and that really defined it in my parents’ generation.” (Click to read the article at W magazine.)

 

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Click to view the gallery at The Guardian.

 

“I think the backdrop of these 25 years is that we’ve never had more inequality and we’ve never had less social mobility. So, in a way, fictitious social mobility—bling and presentation—has replaced real social mobility … because it’s all you can get.” (Click to read the interview with NPR.)

 

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Despite the many tableaus filled with high-end fashion and solid gold embellishments, there’s little sense of reverence or desire for riches. Greenfield turns the gods of capitalism into humans, then places them next to their worshipers. If there’s a diagnosis of society, it’s that dissatisfaction crawls out of the gap between the projection of wealth and its reality. (Click to read the Hyperallergic article.)

 

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In her live interview with the Economist’s Anne McElvoy last night at the Design Museum in London, Generation Wealth photographer Lauren Greenfield proved she was as engaging a talker as she is a photographer. In a wide-ranging chat that encompassed the difference between old and new money, the ever mutating pursuit of the American Dream, how the expression of success has changed dramatically in our lifetime and why Brits incorrectly assume they’re above it all, Greenfield also revealed her attempts to shoot US president Donald Trump for her Generation Wealth project. (Read the article at Phaidon.)

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