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Exclusive Q & A with Lauren Greenfield - Harvardwood

On the eve of publishing Generation Wealth, the highly anticipated book and accompanying mid-career retrospective exhibition from acclaimed photographer and documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield AB '87, Harvardwood zooms in close for the inside scoop.

Q. What can you tell us about Generation Wealth?

A. The book will be released on May 15, and its creation has really dominated the last eight years of my life. It’s certainly a document of our consumerism, and how we exported these values, especially after the financial crash of 2008. I traveled the world—from California, to Iceland and Dubai—and on to China where in a post-communist era, I witnessed a mad dash for wealth and luxury.

This clash of values where everyone now desires to be a part of the aristocracy also led to gender and body issues. Girls are commodified and the “Princess Myth” has led to an acceptance of prostitution as a way to obtain money and success. Brooke Taylor and the acceptance of high-end brothels as potential career tracks are signs of a cultural shift where fame is now a value.

Unfortunately, being “rich and famous” is really not a job as many kids have indicated as their career preference in recent surveys, and it often leads to depression. Aspirations to wealth is an addiction with no satisfaction—and it’s unsustainable both morally and in our communities worldwide. I think my role in this book has been to connect the dots and look at things that we no longer even see.