Pudong International Container Terminals, Shanghai, Kina. Photo: Jens Assur.
Every day we are bombarded with millions of images with different messages. But once in a while some of these images break through the protective shield that most of us carry. The photographer Jens Assurs photos and texts in the exhibition “Hunger” that I saw at Kulturhuset in Stockholm the other day belong to that cathegory.
Jens Assur has travelled around the world, visiting world cities and watching how large groups of humanity never seem to get enough – while others cannot even get what they need to survive.
– I would like to turn the concept of hunger around. Hunger isn’t necessarily people that starve. Hunger can also be the desire for more: eating more, consuming more, says Jens Assur.
During the spring Jens Assur has published five photo books called “Hunger”. These books have been sent to Sweden’s top thousand debators, politicians and other creators of public opinion. His goal is to start a discussion about how to create a society which is sustainable in the long perspective.
The texts he has written to accompany the photos in the exhibitions are straight to the point:
The clock is ticking. Time is getting scarce. There is a lot to be done. We’re living on a narrow neck of land, and could get washed away any time soon. How narrow? Two degrees centigrade is the appreciation of most experts. Two trifling points on the thermometer.
We know what’s needed to be done immediately:
The dependence on fossil fuels – oil and coal – must be broken.
Alternative energy sources must be made economically competitive.
Private motoring must be barred from the cities.
Collective transport has to be extended and developed, made comfortable and cheap.
An economically sound and fairly apportioned global system for rationing carbon dioxide emissions must be created.
The airway industry must carry a substantially larger part of its own climate costs. This will have restructuring consequences for the tourist industry. A Swede travelling to Thailand forth and back statistically causes approximately as much carbon dioxide emissions as a Chinese does during a whole year.
Natural seasons must be reintroduced. Less Southern fruits flown north. Strawberries only in season.
A new system for distributing and marketing foodstuffs, raised locally, in energy efficient ways. Quality instead of quantity.
A new kind of consumption culture must be established. Good and environmentally sound merchandise is preferable to throw-away and price-pressed products.
A renaissance for re-utilization, reparations and handicraft.
A focus shift from gadgets to services and experiences.
The list could be extended forever. It’s everyone’s task to make it longer and turn it into reality.
According to an extensive BBC poll, nine Europeans out of ten are willing to change their lives in order to save the climate. I’d like to take for granted that you’re one of them, and that you mean what you’re saying. I take for granted that you don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s enough to substitute your bottled water with tap water.
Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles, USA. Photo: Jens Assur.