My confession is that I hoard. I have hoarded most of my life, but since I ‘became’ an artist the whole thing ‘became’ worse.
I keep things with interesting images on them.
Street press. Junk Mail. Shopping catalogues. Old magazines.
I have managed to use these things for art making but this has made the whole thing more complex: the hoarded material is art material. I may need it. I’d best hang on to it.
Worse, I consider that it may have value of some kind.
Value is a complex and nebulous concept, entirely specific and contextual. As the market fragments and the figure of the collector are recouped as a folk historian or archivist, one looks at one’s own hoard and wonders what to do it with it.
I began peeling the price tags from the things I purchased a few years ago, with the intent of covering one post card with these tags. It was to be an art work for the Contemporary Art Tasmania members show, and that was to be the end of it. The idea had other plans for me and I kept up the activity: Buy something. Carefully peel the price tag from it. Stick that tiny bit of paper carefully to an acquired postcard (I have hundreds of them. They too are a thing that I hoard). Keep doing that until the postcard is entirely covered. Move on to the next one.
I have quite a few of these cards covered with pricing stickers now. They go through stages, representing my financial status and ability to purchase. They take time to complete. They go missing and I start a new one, then find the old one and go back to it. I might have as many as three on the go at once. It’s not an ordered process, although there are decisions.
The idea that each one should be an object that is for sale came with the first one. The price tags represent the value of an object but have no value when removed from it. They are like money itself: a symbol of value of some kind. The monetary value was in the object not in its tag, but what happens when the tag is removed?
The tags seemed to me to hold some value, even though they did not. I wanted to keep them and see if their value could be maintained when removed from the object. I suppose this was slightly irrational.
When a card is covered with tags, I do the work of addition. I add up the figures and say the card is now an artwork and for sale, for the total figure of the price tags.
I make a new object from residual material and assign it a value dictated by the sum of its parts, no greater than that which it is composed of. I’ve used my hoarded art material again and I prove it has value, that it is useful. I re-enforce my habits.
I’m yet to sell one of these cards but they are always for sale. The price for each is the exact sum of the price tags. This is not negotiable. The value is precise and meaningful. It represents a notion of financial value dictated by other objects, which are not present. It is an engagement and satire of capital, of the notion that a human may find themselves in an object. This has never been true. It is also now a compulsive activity and I wonder if the main reason I buy an object now is for the price tag, working towards the idea that the money will return somehow at some future juncture.
I doubt this but I must keep up the activity for it to have any meaning at all, even a hopeless one. The actions are to be repeated. I must do it.
I intend to continue this activity as long as possible. I will leave instructions for a final value to be calculated and there will be the sum total; a portrait of consumption, compulsion and hoarding given a value I will never see, composed of the numerical ghosts of objects I cannot take with me.