MONEY, WEALTH AND POWER. THREE ELEMENTS THAT ARE, WHETHER WE WANT IT OR NOT, THE FOUNDATION OF OUR SOCIETY. THEY HAVE BECOME THE MEANS BY WHICH WE LIVE. THEY ARE THE DRIVER OF INDIVIDUALS AND SOCIETIES, AND OF GOVERNMENTS AND CHURCHES. MONEY, WEALTH AND POWER. OWENED BY FEW, OBJECTIFIED BY MANY, A RELIGION FOR ALL.
Money has become such a social convenience that it is now a necessity, but the origin of money was very different from how we know it today. In ancient cultures money was created to use as substitute in sacrificial communion rituals. Already in this time the sums of money, or valuables, would indicate ones status among the tribe. Since then the significance of money has changed dramatically. We no longer use it as a substitute. Instead it has become our main means of reward and exchange. But it never lost its religious connotation. Money brings wealth and power. And with power comes a social status that is in some cases the closest thing to a physical expression of deity. Reserved for only a handful, but wanted by many, money and power has the ability to influence people’s behavior and way of living.
Some people have fantasies that should never see the light of day. Others have an imagination that makes you want to know and see more every time. Even though you know it is sometimes on the edge and maybe not suitable to be shared. When the always enthusiastic team of Justin Monroe recently sent us a selection of his latest and greatest, it came with a note that this portfolio piece is a collection of random images that expose’s Justin’s darker side. Which immediately raised the question whether there could be a darker side after having seen all the work Justin Monroe already created. Justin Monroe is a master of imaginary deception, showing the forbidden in such a way that it becomes social acceptable. Sharing his deepest thoughts and fantasies in a hybrid of pornography meets childlike fantasy and a world of surreal decadence. And in that sense Justin Monroe is a master of 21st century renaissance.
It was money that paid the first images of nudity and it was the Church who commissioned it and used it to religious propaganda. Italian painter Giotto was the first of a long list of artists that would change the course of art history. He ignited the flame of the Renaissance that would bring forth incredible talents such as Michelangelo. It is interesting to realize that this new enlightenment has always been closely liked to the old ways of thinking. The Church has always been the power behind it. Today, Justin Monroe uses his camera in the same way Michelangelo used his paintbrush. Driven and inspired by a need for renewal and breaking out of the conventional way of thinking, Justin Monroe transforms his fantasies in imagery that leaves little to the imagination, yet a lot to discover and learn. Always vibrant and never apologetic, Justin has recently embarked on a new journey in which he takes influences of old renaissance paintings and merges them seamlessly with his own signature photographic style.
The old Renaissance masters were driven to shine a new light on society and encourage a new way of thinking, but did it in a subtle way, interwoven with classic biblical themes and religion. Justin Monroe’s approach is not much different safe he decorates his imagery with the influences of modern day spirituality of wealth and decadence. He portrays his subjects as money makers, gold diggers and cash sluts, worshippers the divine powers of the 21st century and surrounded by today’s religious symbols, wealth and luxury. Which answers our question. Could Justin Monroe have an even darker site then what we already knew from him? Yes, but it is not that dark site that brings us enlightenment? –BM-
Visit Monroeland to learn more about Justin Monroe’s work as well as his first calendar Rock Bottom, which can be purchased at justinmonroe.com/rockbottom.
JUSTIN MONROE | BEAUTIFULMAG