By Lola Olvera, Lead Copy Editor
When you google “minimalism,” you get images of stark, piercingly white interiors broken only by tiny green plants, unforgivingly rigid chairs and empty, decorative vases. You find Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering consultant who teaches people how to fold their underwear efficiently. You’ll find The Minimalists, a content-creating duo that made a documentary about “the important things” in life.
Minimalism isn’t quite yet a buzzword so much as the faint hum of a swarm of bees approaching in the distance, an inevitable backlash to overconsumption. So before the influencers of the world turn it into another upper middle class, bullshit trend, I’m going to go ahead and pen my personal manifesto.
In short, minimalism is about realizing one can (and maybe should) live with less, and that in doing so, one has more control over one’s life. In the words of Maya Angelou: “We need much less than we think we need.” It’s recognizing when we have more than enough and sharing our surplus with others. Or, not accumulating more than we need in the first place.
Like most concepts that make me giddy, minimalism works on many levels. Yeah, living like this will obviously declutter your environment and save you money. But it’s a lot more than that. To me, minimalism isn't about a Pinterest board aesthetic, or the kind of ignorant inspiration that tells people to quit their desk job and travel the world. Minimalism is practical, liberating, empowering and if not actively anti-capitalistic, at least consciously anti-consumerist.
It manifests itself in so many things: owning less material possessions, being a critical and ethical shopper, giving to those in need and examining the inequalities in the world. Cleaning out your room and giving your items to people who need them is minimalism. Choosing to sponsor a shelter animal with the money you use to buy coffee every day is minimalism.
For me, this mental shift came when I stumbled upon digital artist David Revoy’s “Yin and Yang of world hunger.” It’s had almost as much of an impact on me as watching my first slaughterhouse video, which radically changed the way I think about animals and led me to become vegetarian. I’ve also always had a soft spot for the concept of balance.
Individuals are not solely responsible for the gross inequalities of the world. However, our collective efforts can sometimes make an impact, even if not immediately on a global scale.
In “Ying and Yang,” a circle is comprised of two individuals. A pale, fleshy figure takes up most of the area, a remote control and plate of pizza balanced on its generous curves. Alongside, a dark, thin figure with a bandaged arm cowers in the small space that is left over.
Revoy might have focused on world hunger, but the disruption of harmony applies to any number of resources: water, energy, technology, education, money. This piece of art asks the question: how much space are you taking up? How much stuff are you taking? And who are we taking it from?
Those are big questions. Individuals are not solely responsible for the gross inequalities of the world. However, our collective efforts can sometimes make an impact, even if not immediately on a global scale. This column is not to make people feel guilty (I, for one, fuck up on the daily) or to recruit people to some sort of cult. I don’t care if you want to spend $50 on a giant, glossy erotic photography book. You do you, boo. It’s your money and it’s your space. I’d just like to challenge the way we use those resources.