Joseph Desler Costa is an American-born artist, photographer, and musician based between Brooklyn, NY and Milan, Italy. Through various disciplines, Costa’s work examines consumerist dreams, the powers of persuasion, and the origins of desire. From 18 – 23 November 2023, the artist presented works from his new book Say Yes, published by SPBH Editions, at Commerce.
Inspired by the persuasions of mass media and consumer culture, Say Yes folds commercialism inward while inviting viewers to consider how the aesthetics of visual advertising underlie contemporary life. Costa’s images form a part-critique and part-embrace of such promises, and the artist himself often mimics the slick visual rhetorics of commercial photographs in order not to sell products, but to engage with notions of selfhood, nostalgic fantasy, and the hunger pangs of desire that motivate the modern world.
In a time of both hyper-connectivity and hyper-isolation, what Say Yes beckons is a reflection of the world we’re forced to inhabit: a smoothed over, technologically-dominated psychic space in which the lines between who we are and what we buy have all but disappeared. Costa’s work reminds us that in the eyes of a world conducted by commerce and profit, we exist more as economic beings than individuals, and that such a world will use all the tools at its disposal to form the fantasies we buy into. Some of us will do so gladly, and perhaps we can take solace in the holes in ourselves that temporary fantasies can fill, even for just a little while.