Buck Ellison: Living Trust
Living Trust is the first monograph by American artist Buck Ellison. LA-based Ellison’s work broadly investigates the language of privilege through meticulously researched images, often executed through staged settings and performative interventions into the visual language of photography.
On the surface, many of Ellison's images appear to mildly reproduce the habits and tastes of comfortable, white, upper-middle-class families: organic vegetables, wellness therapies, performance sportswear, lacrosse & rowing, family Christmas card portraits. However, lurking beneath this is a deep network of enquiry into how whiteness and privilege are sustained and broadcast, whether it is what you put in your body, the bumper sticker on your car, which health problems you can afford to worry about or the quality of the air you breathe.
Many images in Living Trust use a recipe of carefully constructed scenarios to question how photography perpetuates these distinctions. Ellison pays actors and models throughout his work to stand in and take on the appearance of generic characters, at times reminiscent of commercial or advertising tropes. In this breaking down of boundaries between different rules of photography, Ellison’s work goes beyond a fetishism or repudiation of wealthy habits, in favour of something more ambivalent and uncomfortable. Through webs of association stretching across various photographic styles, Living Trust is an anthropology of W.A.S.P. America – where the quest for authenticity and well-being is aestheticised, internalised and commodified.