Paid Content is a new body of work by acclaimed British photographer David Stewart, released simultaneously as an exhibition at Wren London and as a book published by Browns Editions.
Stewart, who in 2015 won the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, has again created a wry documentation of the everyday, drawing from his own personal experiences and using his large format camera to hold up a mirror to both them and to the world at large. Now, Stewart is gamekeeper turned poacher, using the setting of the advertising agency, an environment he, himself, has occupied for the past four decades.
Through this project, Stewart explores the changing face of workplace culture and the wider dehumanising effect that is occurring due to the growth of large, faceless corporations and globalisation. For Paid Content, Stewart has constructed a finely tuned record featuring a cast of interrelated characters within a number of semi-biographical semi-fictional settings. Through his photographic process, Stewart accords a heightened reality to these scenes. The close focus, highly detailed images result in an unforgiving, penetrative treatment of his subjects and what they stand for – high gloss superficiality, smoke and mirrors - not the creative dynamism Stewart encountered when he first entered this environment.