Text and images by photographer Martin Adolfsson
Photographer Martin Adolfsson’s project “Suburbia gone Wild” provides a fascinating window into one of the greatest structural changes of the twenty-first century, the rise of the upper middle class in the developing world. Exploring the search for identity among this new strata of society, Adolfsson takes us where they live: the shiny, newly-developed suburbs surrounding the new economic centers of the world. By focusing on model homes and the suburban landscape, his approach is best described as a combination of positively amusing and awkwardly eerie, as he documents a curious phenomenon that looks more and more like the constructed world of The Truman Show. The work expands across every continent and includes the suburbs of Bangkok, Shanghai, Bangalore, Cairo, Moscow, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, and Mexico City.
Within the past two decades we’ve seen a huge shift in the balance of economic power. Countries that didn’t have a middle class 20 years ago have seen a rapid transformation from an agricultural economy to an industrial-based economy, so much so that a sizable percentage of the population now belongs to the middle class. How does that affect the social groups who have been able to benefit the most from the economic boom? How does that influence one’s identity when the change is so rapid?
I want to explore that search for identity taking place in the suburbs surrounding Shanghai, Bangkok, Bangalore, Cairo, Moscow, Johannesburg, Sao Paolo, and Mexico City. By omitting geographical and national traces, I seek to create a strong visual narrative between these disarmingly similar landscapes. The similarities interest me more than the national and cultural differences. My intentions are to create a visual narrative that takes the viewer on the front lines of an emerging global movement.
Martin Adolfsson is a Swedish photographer based in NYC since 2007. He shoots portraits, travel and architectural work for magazines and advertising agencies around the globe. His personal work focuses on social structures and behaviors.
www.martinadolfsson.com | @MaAd_NYC_photog