Zoophilia

Based on photographs taken with acquisitive desperation during the Christmas shopping season at the San Francisco department store Gump’s, Christmas at Gump’s (2018, Leala Hewak) explores the psychological world of the luxury economy. Darkly comic productions populated with treasures out of reach to most of us—hundred-dollar ornaments, three-hundred-dollar pillows, thousand-dollar perfumes—these photomontages allude to Dutch old master still-life paintings, which likewise portrayed luxuries available only to the wealthy, infusing them with grim mortality. Like the Dutch Republic in its golden age, San Francisco’s combination of old and new money allows Gump’s to thrive in a time marked by economic uncertainty.