It’s fair to say that Millennials are the most tech-savvy adults in history. That advantage, one might think, would make them poised to become the most financially successful--if it weren’t for the fact that they entered the job market during a global recession. That doesn’t seem to faze them: If surveys are to be believed, they’re also more progressive and less materialistic (perhaps by necessity, as they’re all more debt-saddled than their predecessors).
These images, taken by the young Swedish photographer Sannah Kvist, seem to bear that out--snapshots of Millennials surrounded by all of their worldly possessions, which generally occupy no more than the corner of a room. The “All I Own" series stems from Kvist’s personal struggle with consumerism: “I had lived for 23 years when I took the photo of me and everything I owned and thought it was a sad collection of junk I’ve managed to buy,” she tells Co.Design. Similarly, the friends and acquaintances she has photographed since then have been amazed by “how much shit they actually owned.” (If you’ve moved recently, you’re probably familiar with that feeling.) “I think most people actually got an eye-opener when they built the piles.”
All of Kvist’s subjects were born in the ’80s, like herself, which, the artist says, is the most important limitation of the project. “[It] is the first generation, at least in Sweden, who had to grow up with worse social conditions than their parents, while the way we consume has changed radically.” Rather than investing in a permanent apartment, Kvist’s models tend to live in sublets, traveling with a few boxes (or Ikea bags) from one short-term arrangement to the next.
Age wasn’t the only requirement; nothing could be left out of the picture. “Everything should be in, but one can hide some stuff in the back,” Kvist says. The models are given carte blanche to stage their things and give their most valued objects most prominence. Unsurprisingly, their Macs were typically placed front and center. “I noticed how quickly they began to ‘compose’ their stacks,” the artist continues. “Much time was devoted to fine-tuning them. They were proud of some things, less of others.” The compositions, in effect, became self-conscious expressions of each participant’s persona.
As for Kvist’s own fight against collecting junk, it may be a losing battle. “Now that I live in Gothenburg, where it’s easier to find a sublet where you can stay longer, I have increased the household goods again. I just recently bought a life-size skeleton made of PVC. I have no further comment.”