Wait is the self-published book by artist and model Wilson Oryema. Simply put – it is ‘a book about consumption’, a book of short poems and stories that can be read as a somewhat manual – a witty moral code for our ever consuming, ever impatient society. Wait is the secular bible we all need this Christmas.
It is the dissection of consumption becoming the commonplace way of life, a religion. We have eager and upmost faith in the object: whilst desire triumphs over love, and want over need.
Oryema addresses this confusion between needing and wanting, and the parallel constraints of time – the pressure to bid, outbid, depart with cash, and the pressure to dispose as quickly as we have bought. Split into three parts that we consume: Things, Others, Narratives, the book leads its reader on the journey of waste that we ourselves readily create and accept: the waste in our environment, the waste in our minds, the waste in our hearts.
Wait was born after Oryema’s poignantly successful photography show of the same title, ‘a visual commentary’ which expressed the London born and bred artist’s frustration with overconsumption. Yet, rather than creating another zine – he wanted to make something relatable that could educate and ‘sit in all places’, whether that be in a gallery, book-shop, school or a commuter’s pocket.
As the 24-year-old explains, Wait is a ‘collection of conversations - none of these [stories] are long enough to feel like you are being lectured, which would basically defeat the purpose of the book.’ Each segment is short enough to digest and bears the possibility to make impeccable small-talk – ‘oh, I heard there’s a tonne of plastic waste for each person on this planet. Oh, did you hear that story about the two tonne whale which washed up onto shore and had thirty plastic bags in its stomach?’
Conveying information about consumption in an ironically un-time consuming way, ‘the short format allows you to decide whether to rest with the short conversation or go into deeper research about the issue’ – Wait’s readers are given information, it is not imposed on them.
Essentially, Oryema wants to ‘raise awareness of our consumption habits and how they affect our planet. Every single problem on our planet is related to the different ways in which we consume – even down to say, personal relationships – how much you are consuming of a person is emotional consumption.’ Time consumption, food, waste – for Oryema, there needs to be a broad understanding of consumption that does not daunt.
Whilst his photographs shown at Doomed Gallery in London this year highlighted our relationship with trash and the direct physical effects on the environment, Wait, the book is a harder pill to swallow. With lines such as: When will the world wake up? and If our seeds make it, it would be easy to succumb to a stark portrayal of the future. But Wait is not pessimistic, rather realistic. It is a humble enlightenment and a satirical message of hope: that to incite change, ourselves and our governments must not adhere to a blame game or a façade of concern. We must instil preventive measures to protect our minds, our beings and our environment from becoming overwhelmed by the saturation of fast trash.
The ‘clock’ really is ticking.
‘I’m not sure what’s going to happen with the book. I don’t know how much is going to be sold. I just want to build more conversations around consumption from it and take lessons from it. Because as much as it was for others, it was also for myself, to outline my own consumption habits and what type of things I fall victim to. Even if they read a few pages, or even just this article – I want people to remember how much they consume on a regular basis.’
Images courtesy of WILSON ORYEMA
words HELENE KLEIH
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