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Running the Numbers – An American Self-Portrait

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Artist and activist, Chris Jordan creates amazing images that portray America’s consumption. Chris’ hope is that his images will have a different effect than raw numbers alone. Since simple numbers no matter how large can be rather abstract it can be difficult to connect with ones impact. Whereas a visual representation of vast quantities can help make meaning of 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds or two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.


This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. The underlying desire is to emphasize the role of the individual in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.


As with any large works they must be seen in person to participate in the full experience. We hope the images here and on Chris’ web site arouse your curiosity and desire to do so when possible.

Plastic Bottles, 2007 60×120"
Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.


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Barbie Dolls, 2008 60×120"
Depicts 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006.


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Paper Bags, 2007 60×80"
Depicts 1.14 million brown paper supermarket bags, the number used in the US every hour.


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Cans Seurat, 2007 60×92"
Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.


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Skull With Cigarette, 2007 72×98" (based on a painting by Van Gogh)
Depicts 200,000 packs of cigarettes, equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarrette smoking every six months.


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Prison Uniforms, 2007 10×23 feet in six vertical panels
Depicts 2.3 million folded prison uniforms, equal to the number of Americans incarcerated in 2005.

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Installed at the Von Lintel Gallery, NY, June 2007


Please see the complete series and show locations at chrisjordan.com


All images copyright Chris Jordan. Reprinted with permission.

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