Imagine venturing the urban landscape of Anchorage, or any modern city, with none of your possessions. No clothes on your back, no Smartphone in your coat pocket, no cigarette tucked behind your ear. Interacting with the landscape would feel alien, as without modern amenities the modern landscape can appear cold and inanimate. The florescent lights and plastic furniture probe the naked flesh; the two do not work well together. Technological devices and cancer-causing stress relievers have become necessary to many people’s lives.

I was born into a world influenced by mass media and brand names. Ipads, Big Macs and Billibong apparel are not needed. They are demanded. The idea of needs and wants has become one and the same. Identity is now based upon your possessions and American culture on consumption. It is now hard to speak of acquaintances without using labels. He’s sophisticated because he wears Prada suits, and she’s a thug because she sports Fubu and Mark Ecko. These statements make claim to a person’s character despite being based purely on clothing choice. Such assumptions about a person’s traits can often be wrong. The gentlemen wearing the expensive suit is hiding cocaine is his inner pocket. The girl hunching forward in an oversized hoodie is clenching a piece of paper in her hand, and on that piece of paper is a poem about the stigma attached with being a youth minority.

Take all the bullshit belongings away, however, and we’re all just flesh and blood. I want to demand that I be judged on my principles and morals, but to gain such acceptance of my college-aged peers is likely impossible. If I were to walk around wearing nothing but a Zen Buddhist robe my friends would surely shun me. If I were to walk around naked it would frighten everyone.

The November Fisrt Friday and IGCA featured a gallery consisting of about 80 sepia photographs. Hung upon the wall in a linear fashion the photos featured a single naked woman. The young female glances around the numerous settings looking sad, confused and —at times—empty.

She stands exposed in the middle of a basement, an empty McMansion, the Consortium Library of UAA, an apparel store, etc. Her natural beauty is at war with a synthetic existence.  How the woman has found herself vulnerable in these settings is beyond me, but that’s not the point. A sense is gained that natural existence would not cope effectively with an environment of plastic aesthetic.

“I don’t understand,” a young girl standing next to me said.

“What do you think it means?” I asked.

“Is it supposed to mean anything?” She asked in response.

Maybe I am missing the point. People have told me I think too much. The display could just have easily been screenshots from the upcoming sequel to the 1992 Pauly Shore film Encino Man. We’ve all been waiting with are fingers crossed for that masterpiece, after all. Thank you America for giving us Pauly Shore. Thank you McDonald’s for giving us the Big Mac. Thank you Phillip Morris for sharing your fine cigarettes. Thank you (insert brand name here) for providing us with quality apparel. You all have made us what we are.

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