COLLECTORS

I was interested in finding a way to express uncontrollable gravitation towards particular objects, especially compulsions to have the same object en masse.

During my artist’s residency in 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio, I conducted extensive individual interviews with collectors of objects.

If the collection had been accrued over many decades, and if the collector expressed an overwhelming emotional involvement with the collection, then I deemed it as being relevant to the project.

I searched for local collectors via residency’s network, on the internet, by posting announcements on social media, talking to owners of local thrift shops and observing local auctions on eBay. Then, I met seven people who collect the following: teapots, typewriters, sewing machines, moon-shaped shelves, space age furniture, works of art from northeast Ohio from the period 1910-1920, and carrot products.

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Acts of collecting and hoarding are similar in that they both involve possessing a number of objects. What clearly distinguishes collecting from hoarding is discipline.

Hoarding is an endless accumulation without selection, and it shows a lack of care for content, quantity and quality. Collecting, by contrast, demands the updating of knowledge, archiving, consideration of structures/systems, and maintenance of the items’ condition. In some situations, a collection can consist of several sub-series, each of which has a conclusion. From there, the collector can resume acquiring other items that fit in further series.

The value of a collection is therefore not determined only by the purchase and sale price of the objects, but also by all the activities related to the collection: the time spent searching, acquiring, and maintaining it, not to mention the patience and generosity required to share one’s living space with the objects. A collection may even restrict its owner’s mobility, and oftentimes such a predicament appears awkward and senseless to others.

I asked each collector the same set of questions:

What are these objects?
How did your interest in these objects begin?
When did this collection start and how long has it been going on?
What is so appealing about these objects?
Which features/aspects/qualities are important?
What are the rules of this collection?

I was especially fascinated by the sites, where the collectors stored their objects, in the space of everyday life. Quite often it made me curious as to whether the house or apartment was there to house the collector, or rather the objects.

OBJECT STORIES ›

PROCESS ›

Faces to Hide, The SPACES World Artist Program, Cleveland, Ohio

PHOTOGRAPHER: Becky Yee

EXHIBITION ›

Faces to Hide, The SPACES World Artist Program, Cleveland, Ohio

PHOTOGRAPHER: Becky Yee

FACTS ›

Collectors—Moon Shelves, 2013
Inkjet on paper
66 x 70 cm

Collectors—Teapots, 2013
Inkjet on paper
66 x 70 cm

Collectors—Typewriters, 2013
Inkjet on paper
66 x 70 cm

Collectors—Artworks from Northeast Ohio from 1910–1920, 2013
Inkjet on paper
66 x 70 cm

Collector—Space-Age Furniture, 2013
Inkjet on paper
66 x 70 cm

Collectors—Carrot Products, 2013
Inkjet on paper
66 x 70 cm

Collectors—Sewing Machines, 2013
Inkjet on paper
117 x 139,5 cm

“I like the feeling of thinking that ‘there will be no more of this.’ I collect artwork of dead artists.”

“Utility is not at all important. Meaning that it has to me is most important. Why are they so appealing? I do not know. Symbolism that speaks to you. Symbols of the spiritual pass, Nirvana—all that I am longing are in them.”

VIDEO