The figures in Jakob Schnetz’s series “Trade Show” oftentimes don’t look like living, breathing people. Instead, many of them are stiff, plastic, and often faceless, like props or mannequins. Schnetz’s photos offer a deadpan look at the massive exhibition halls in Germany that host trade shows—crowded assemblies that exist for the explicit purpose of selling merchandise.
With their focus on the sometimes ridiculous products (what are those egg-like chairs?) that fill the halls, Schnetz’s images slyly reference the consumerism and money that drives these conventions. His photographs are also ironic, poking fun at both participants and salespeople. In Schnetz’s words:
On 2,750,000 square meters in Germany’s exhibition halls, the newest products are presented, the most efficient services are praised, and the best know-how is exploited. There are different trade shows for every interest: weapons, sex, pets, technology, livestock, carpets, leisure, tourism, beauty and more.
Each year, these performance shows provide sales up to 23 billion euros in Germany. With a total of about 10 million visitors per year and more then 170 nationwide trade shows, Germany is considered the most important trade show location worldwide.