Still life boxes

Photoshopped images of Portraits of young Rwandans on 12 boxes. Each box is 4″ x 3″ x 3″

My decision to make little boxes out of these images was a result of my inquiry into how we in the West view the world, how we make order out of our surroundings, order out of chaos. Our practice of breaking things down into categories in order to study and understand the system as a whole began with Rene Descartes, the father of modern science. This practice has transformed itself in today’s information-based consumer society – where we have so much information and so much to choose from – into a compulsion to compartmentalize things,  to organzie them into nice tidy little boxes. We’ve become very good at categorizing people, emotions, events, everything, anything. We also like to keep things clean and sanitized, wrapping them in plastic wrap. To keep them clean and unspoiled, to keep us safe.

This is how we in the West bring order into our world. How we understand things. It is to some extent responsible for our successes and progress, but contrarily, it is often our shortcoming and failure. According to proponents of the Theories of Chaos and Complexity, the Cartesian approach does not work where non-linear dynamics is involved. No matter how much we divide a complex system into categories , no matter what knowledge studying each compartment gives us, nor how many categories we set up, we cannot predict the future, nor can we predict with complete certainty what people will do in the future, what the future holds for any of us.