Have you heard the saying minimalist or minimalism? The word minimalism described an art movement in the 1960s regarding artists like Donald Judd, Agnes Martin or Carl Andre. The interesting thing is many of the artists didn’t relish being called minimalist artists or identify it as a movement at all. The idea around their artistic aesthetic was a reduction of the abstract movement favouring the literal.
The word minimalism has been construed from its original form into an aesthetic that is desired in consumer culture. Mainly in high-end products away from the middle to low-income households. This is because the minimalist lifestyle is a preference to own less, rather than the economic struggles of lower wealth classes. Minimalism has become a status symbol, represented mainly by White European or Asian ethnicities.
Minimalism has roots in an eco-friendly, less consumerism culture. Which is noble at heart, it’s out of reach for many. Look closely at the minimalism culture and ask yourself what are they selling. When you look closely it’s a journal, a clothing item, a high-end laptop or even a new house. Things that require money to obtain. It’s conspicuous consumption, not very eco friendly when its roots are still connected to growth or a business mindset. Thrift shoppers are more eco friendly than minimalists. Even if that eco-friendly minimalist aesthetic business is predominantly digital and subscription-based it requires the consumption or requirement of materials.
I personally love the minimalist aesthetic, I aspired to become a minimalist, I read Marie Kondo book ‘Life-changing habits of tidying up. Taking a step back, I realised I wasn’t a minimalist but an essentialist. Observing back even forth, I realised that I’m privileged, I myself am a White European Male. I had been brainwashed into buying high-end goods and high-quality items, all to appease my ego, and say I was doing my part to save the world. Which in hindsight was complete ego-driven bullshit.
On reflection, I realised what I was consuming had good intentions but wasn’t going to save the world. It was only for the betterment of myself. So I throw minimalism into the landfill and adopted Essentialism. An ideology about only owning what you need. Close to minimalism but without the aesthetic or guilt of not owning high-quality products. At an individual level what we choose to buy, consume or believe in does very little in changing the world around us. impactful change requires the masses, something that needs older generations views to die along with them. A morbid truth that requires time, so I leave you with this, the older generations of consumer culture might have the clocks but we have the time.
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