Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Possessions on display (an obsession)

I like piles of things. Specifically, I like piles of my things. I like laying out everything I have and looking at it. I like sometimes to take things out of the drawers in my room and placing them in an order. Something like a constellation of objects. I arrange things by size or by color or chronologically. I arrange things based on bodily response or emotional attachment or from love to hate. So far I've done this in my kitchen, my bedroom, my basement. This summer I want to do the garage and the front room and my office.

My process is this- I take out everything from every closet, drawer and shelf. I take a moment to hold each object and observe it. Extra special moments are reserved for glass surfaces which I believe to be mystic. I  spend a lot of time going back and forth between things, it may be two days before I get the arrangement right. If an object is dirty I will clean it. Sometimes I take notes in a notebook and often I eat meals while walking around the city of objects, deep in contemplation of order.

With regards to the kitchen project, I saved the food for last and omitted meats, cheeses and the freezer contents. When I finish I try to take a picture of what I've done. I can't upload the pictures because well, these are my things. Some of them are private. Some of them are thrown away now, picked up on Canadian curb day where we throw out our junk. These are just for me, like most of my personal pictures.

Why do I do this? 

Why do you do anything? Maybe I draw power or happiness from the mixture of weirdness, order and obsessiveness. Maybe I am just fucked in the head. Or maybe it is because of Nina Leen.

Nina Leen is my hero. One of them. She was one of the first female photographers for LIFE. Here's her obituary in the NYT:

Nina Leen, one of the first female photographers for Life magazine, died on Sunday at her home in New York City. Ms. Leen was secretive about her age, but Alison Hart, a press agent for Life, said she was believed to be in her late 70's or early 80's.
Ms. Leen photographed many subjects but was best known for her pictures of animals. Among her 15 books were two studies of bats, published in the 1970's. To make the pictures for these books, she used special cameras and lighting and overcame an aversion to the animals.
One of her most famous images is a 1950 photograph of the Abstract Expressionist artists known as the Irascibles, including Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock.

I've never seen any of her animal pics. I love her pictures from the 50's and 60's. She has some excellent b/w work, but most of all I like this photo right here:

What do I like about this? I like it because it captures a moment in a way that no other can, a North American kind of moment. A womanly kind of moment. And it isn't an event that is captured but an essence. It shows the objects that this woman interacts with on a daily basis, the clothing, the kitchen tools, the cleaning supplies (the mystic glass is the center piece). It is beautiful because these are the things that determine the physics of our being. That captures a certain way, just as my own piles do.

Nobody I show this picture to seems to like it. They usually smile or 'yeah yeah' to it, but it never seems to take breath away from others as it does for me. Maybe I am just a freak.

That being said, a large portion of my novel involves the female character arranging her possessions like this. Maybe somebody out there does the same twisted thing now and then, maybe it will encourage someone to take on the artful task of total possession arrangement.

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