Edson Chagas uses photography as a process in which he not only investigates daily life but also employs images in a pointed critique of consumerism. Images obtained from the everyday ‘things’ that surround us, in this sense, become existential beings. A key series of his is Oikonomos (2011), described by Chagas as a ‘forensic analysis’ of the global financial crisis. As a result of this crisis, Chagas started collecting carrier bags to document the trading of companies in Angola. Placed over his head and performatively styled as self-portraits, the bags trace a consumer history in an age of hurtling capitalism.
Chagas was subject to wide acclaim at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, having been the principal exhibitor of the Angola Pavilion which was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Recent exhibitions include the itinerant The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory Revisited by Contemporary African Artists in 2014–2015 (MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, Germany; SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, the US, and the National Museum of African Art – Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the US).