After six years of travel to five different continents, Adolfsson has published Suburbia Gone Wild, a new photography book that goes in and around the model homes of wealthy cul-de-sacs in cities like Bangalore, Moscow, and Cairo. His discoveries reveal a world that continues to homogenize around emerging clusters of wealth aspiring to a particularly American brand of suburban life.
It wasn’t always easy for Adolfsson to capture these oddly beautiful shots of perfectly arranged kitchen pantries and opulent living rooms. His method was to photograph the model homes inside these developments, hiring locals to pretend to be a significant other who would then distract sales reps as he snuck off to take pictures around the house…
This copy+paste behavior is a result of America’s cultural dominance over the past five decades, exported through soap operas, movies, and magazines. I also think that the “lifestyle” fills a cultural gap as many of these countries didn’t have an upper middle class until recently and haven’t established a strong identity for this growing class yet…
I came to the realization that many of the residents living in these suburbs share a common identity with residents living in similar communities around the world, whether it’s Bangkok, Cairo, Moscow or São Paulo, than they do with their fellow countrymen living outside the gates of these suburbs. I think this is the beginning of a huge global shift where national identity is becoming less relevant.
Another cultural export of the United States of America.
I like the connection to a global/Americanized/suburbanized mentality. At the same time, this is only available to an upper-income section of global society so this is a limited group. It could get a lot more interesting if these people from around the world started gathering and interacting on a more consistent basis. Perhaps this is already happening in tourist spots, conferences, places of consumption (from retail to media), or corporate offices.
There would be a lot of room for research on how this global/suburban identity then meshes with more local identities. Critics have argued that suburbs within America have their own culture, full of everything from conformity to individualism (depending on which critic you listen to over the last six decades). But, the United States is now a suburban nation so the suburban identity is quite common and is expressed all over the place from movies to TV to books to politics. It would be a lot different in countries without an established suburban ethos.