On Collecting
Issue

5.3 / On Collecting

December 17 2014

Introduction

Walter Benjamin wrote in Illuminations that “ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects.” In an effort to explore the limitations of this concept, we have invited contributors to consider collecting as both an individual and instituting activity, as well as the relationships, intimate or problematic, that people have with the objects they live with. How does desire, the thrill of the hunt, and identity play into collecting? What constitutes a collection?

Acknowledging that collecting impacts the context not only of what is added but what already exists, we conceived this issue to itself be a collection. Launching with four articles on February 6, 2014, we've continued to “acquire” articles over the past ten months, providing a range of perspectives on the relationship between people and the objects they choose to bring into their lives.

Collecting can conjure up a monied world of auction houses, art consultants, and appraisers as much as it can a more modest image of a home full of framed pieces obtained through exchange amongst friends. However, the ethos of collecting goes well beyond the art world. Christina Catherine Martinez explores differing intimacies between subject and object in relation to fashion, both virtual and real. Matt Borruso revisits his 2011 temporary book space project and taps into the border between collecting and hoarding. Ela Bittencourt traces how queer genealogies of creative resistance are transmitted through the circulation and recirculation of one very personal collection. Rachel Endosa describes how the paper dolls that her grandmother drew and she collects bind together personal histories across generations and physical distance. The narrative imbued in the object comes to the fore through multiple articles, most notably in the selected columns produced during our residency at di Rosa, in Napa. That series also points to how the objects mold the life and behavior of those who own them, which both Glen Helfand and Djinnaya Stroud investigate through their conversations with collectors.

As with any collection, there is always room for more, and we may not yet be done with this subject. But we thought it fitting to end 2014 by revisiting this issue in its expanded form, as a marker of our activities over these months, and a suggestion of how we're looking ahead.—Art Practical Editors

Features

Scanners, Hoarders, and Collectors

Scanners, Hoarders, and Collectors

By Matt Borruso

With Scanners, we wanted to question the Internet database of books as a small and artificially constructed space defined by money and popularity rather than aesthetics or information.

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Jill Miller: Collectors

Jill Miller: Collectors

By Art Practical Editors

Using the surveillance and stake-out techniques she learned, Miller turned an eye toward the art world and spent six months undercover trailing some of San Francisco's most elusive members of the art community, its collectors

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Building a Better Me

Building a Better Me

By Christina Catherine Martinez

Collecting is the work of fencing off some discernible patch of belonging amid the wild landscape of existence.

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Breaking the Borderlands of Function

Breaking the Borderlands of Function

By Djinnaya Stroud

The term “non-functional art” isn’t satisfying as an antonym for functional art. All art serves a function, even if that function is solely aesthetic.

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Columns

Remote Viewing with Stairwell’s

Remote Viewing with Stairwell’s

By Sarah Hotchkiss, Carey Lin

We drove up from San Francisco to di Rosa on an exceedingly hot day in late September, shortly after the Napa earthquake and the same weekend a closure on Highway 37 slowed wine-tasting traffic to a walking pace.

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All the Feels

All the Feels

By Aaron Harbour, Jackie Im

Jackie Im and Aaron Harbour ruminate on the di Rosa collection and its founder in writing, while Erin Jane Nelson provides her interpretation through altered digital photographs. 

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