From practical to kitsch, this project examines what we acquire and why, and what that tells us about the 'self'.
Many of these photographs were found exploring estate sales. Dwellings departed, often with the familiar clutter of mid-living. The Home as an intimate space where we can safely be ourselves is sacred. Watching these objects be reassigned from memory inducing treasures to valued for liquidation was stirring. Acquiring things is a way that we relate to the world around us. The objects we surround ourselves with provide a sense of self-worth, security and inform others of the person we think we are.
Marketing and advertising has contributed to what economists call the law of diminishing marginal utility, we have to run faster just to stay in place. With each generation we are a more disposable culture. There is an obvious, frenzied and concerted effort to lower our self-worth though advertising and influencers in order to reinforce the habit of ‘the purchase’.
What started as an intriguing glimpse into someones life ended up a broad examination of the American industrial culture. In Randy Frost’s book, STUFF, he says, “We may own the things in our homes, but they own us as well. Having all these possessions has caused a shift in our behavior away from human interaction to interaction with inanimate objects.”
The true value of objects are its usefulness as well as a physical manifestation of memories. Visiting these collections people have acquired we can't help but be curious of the memories attached. What is the relationship between the object and the person who bears it? Once left behind, an object loses its tether and again is only an object. And the landfill is full of the untethered.
Exploring these concepts begins with photographing the objects people have. Moving from a broad perspective to pointed, my goal is to find out if I can understand people through disparate collections and how these collections differ depending on socio-economic, geographic, race, gender and age demographics.