Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When objects begin to choke, rather than inspire

I collect things. Most people do. I collect things because of the inspiration that the object happens to give me. Usually it has some sort of nostalgic connotation but not always. Sometimes, I'll collect something because I like the texture, or colour, or quirkiness of it. Or because I think I will some day integrate it into a piece of art. All the this becomes dangerous territory when a person happens to own a basement. Because basements seem to have no limit in terms of how much stuff can be crammed into a tight space. And basements are hidden from guests. So embarrassment alone will not entice a person to organize or clean out a basement. In fact most of us will not clean out a basement until we're literally forced into it; such as a flood or a move. Only then is the truth revealed. Only then must we face the ridiculousness of objects we have treasured beyond the point of sanity. Only then, when the rock is turned over, do we see all the bugs trying to squirm their way out of the daylight.

I faced my own basement last week. We could no longer walk through it. All paths had been cut off. The only function-able corner was the washing machine and that corner was quickly becoming threatened. I had to face it sooner or later and for whatever reason, my son and I took charge and descended. Five days later, we emerged. The job is not yet over but there is definite improvement.

Throughout those five days, I asked myself 'What could possibly be creative about this?” This feels like the equivalent to digging up potatoes all day. Or replacing shingles on a roof. However, I trusted that somehow i would extract creativity from the job. And eventually, I have to say, I did find the link. And it comes in the form of letting go. By releasing and giving away objects- bits and pieces of art objects or objects I had intended on 'up-cycling'- I am saying “that was me then but it is no longer me now”. And by throwing something out or giving something away, I'm not erasing that older version of myself either. She'll always live and breath in me somewhere. I don't need mounds and mounds of proof in the form of boxes of stuff.

The creativity comes in the form of a now-empty pallet (well, not quite empty as that would be an exaggeration). And some objects were spared; I kept my plaster squashes that I made years ago as part of a window installation. And I kept my tin cans of bees wax, simply because I love the smell of bees wax. And I did find a vase that I filled to the brim with daisies from my back yard. It's an exciting new chapter I'm beginning. And I have a space now, to write the contents of that chapter into. Or begin to collect all over again!

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