Edson Chagas is altering our perceptions of consumable objects. The photographer recodifies reality by reframing items that have grown weary with age in new backgrounds, exploring the issues of consumerism, capitalism, and tradition. In pop art fashion, Chagas forces audiences to reevaluate the found object.
Chagas was born in Luanda, Angola in 1977. Chagas completed a degree in photojournalism at the London College of Communication in the UK and studied documentary photography at the University of Wales in Newport. He now lives and works in Luanda. In Chagas’ adolescence, everything was reused. Today, however, consumption habits do not adhere to the same values. It is these changes Chagas documents.
For the artist’s series Found Not Taken, he gathered discarded objects from the streets of Luanda, London, and Wales. He reframed these objects and took photos of them. The overlooked objects were thus reappropriated into emblems of overconsumption and waste of which our society is rampant. By manufacturing the image, Chagas makes us question social construction and reality. A selection from the series represented Angola at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), winning the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.
In Chagas’ series Tipo Passe he also toyed with the idea of social construction; he composed images of models wearing traditional African masks while wearing contemporary clothing bought in street markets. He makes us consider the role of traditional values in today’s society as well as identity.