A Camera's-Eye View: Our 'Material World.' (Profiles of Families in 'Material World: A Global Family Portrait')

By Endrst, Elsa B. | UN Chronicle, June 1995 | Go to article overview

A Camera's-Eye View: Our 'Material World.' (Profiles of Families in 'Material World: A Global Family Portrait')


Endrst, Elsa B., UN Chronicle


Award-winning American photojournalist Peter Menzel sees his book, "Material World: A Global Family Portrait", as a rich, visual tapestry, documenting the close of the twentieth century. In an up-close and revealing way, the photographic essay focuses on portraits of average families from some 30 nations, shown outside their homes, surrounded by thee material possessions. The text and pictures together provide a view not only of what they own, but also of their lifestyles. economies, cultures and values.

Yale University Professor Paul Kennedy calls Mr. Menzel's project "a bold and imaginative experiment, an attempt to capture, through photos and statistics, both the common humanity of peoples inhabiting our earth and the great differences in material goods and circumstances that make rich and poor societies".

The book, published in 1994, was assembled with UN help as a contribution to the International Year of the Family. Many of the photographs were exhibited at UN Headquarters last year as part of the preparatory process leading to the World Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), to be held in Istanbul, Turkey in June 1996.

Mr. Menzel got the idea for the name of his book from the words of American rock star Madonna's song, "Material Girl". With information from the UN, the World Bank and an independent research company, he created profiles of "statistically average" families that he chose for his subjects for the project.

He began by photographing families in japan, South Africa and Mali. Then he assembled a team of expert photojournalists from seven countries, travelling the world and shooting 2,000 rolls of film and more than 100 hours of video tape. He selected the countries from a list of UN Member States; only one declined to participate in the project.

One family Mr. Menzel found especially interesting was the Regzens from Mongolia, a traditionally nomadic society, which now has more than 60 per cent of its citizens living in urban areas.

Used to living in their "gers"--portable tents used over the centuries so the nomadic herdsmen could follow their animals to new grazing grounds--the urban dwellers of Mongolia, Mr. Menzel says. now live on little plots of land, still using these tents as their dwelling. hen they get enough money", he says, "they will probably build a permanent house modest. more like a shack, but somewhat more comfortable than what they had before."

Teasets in the tent

The Regzen family includes father, mother two children, the father's sister and her daughter, as well as the wife's sister and her husband. Most of the family is shown in front of their tent, surrounded by their possessions, including a china cabinet with stickers of Disney cartoon characters "Chip" and Dale". two family portraits, two ceramic horses, a ceramic and a bronze Buddha. two teasels, a dresser with a vanity mirror. topped by an alarm clock, a twin bed with a woven coverlet, and a dining room table.

Inside the ger, one can see a variety of food a teapot, more figurines, soft drinks. a hotplate and enamelled plates hanging from the wall. A fluorescent light fixture is suspended from the peak of the ger. A sheep grazes nea-rbY

Regzen Batsuury. a truck driver and free-lance construction worker, and his wife, Lkhamsuren Oyuntsetseg, who works full-time in the pharmacy of the local hospital, live in Ulan Bator. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Camera's-Eye View: Our 'Material World.' (Profiles of Families in 'Material World: A Global Family Portrait')
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.