I’ve reached the point in my relatively short artistic life where I’m out of room. Or, rather, my rooms are full: all the rooms in my house that have some kind of extra storage available to me are full to the brim with photography related things. Closets, spaces under beds, behind beds, under sofas: it’s all stuffed with stuff. My tiny desk is a nightmare of mess both above and below. Lighting equipment gives me fits when I try to unearth holiday decorations, coats, etc. The poles for the backdrop have smacked me in the head more than once. Frames are stacked everywhere and I can no longer even open the drawers in the chest where I keep prints and polaroids.
A couple of years ago, viewing a show of large scale sculptures, I wondered what exactly that kind of an artist does with her work when it isn’t on display. Where do you keep that kind of thing, if you are a regular person who doesn’t have land, extra buildings, a studio, etc. What do you do if you don’t sell the work but also don’t have anywhere to store it?
So I find myself at the point where I am thinking I either need to quit making prints (cyanotypes included because my goodness I have stacks of them) or start giving things away. Selling it doesn’t seem like a possibility, and would require more chutzpah than I currently possess. I am drowning in a flood of stuff, overwhelmed to the point where I don’t want to create anymore. I am reminded of the Oyster shell chapter from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea “It is untidy, spread out in all directions, heavily encrusted with accumulations and . . . . firmly imbedded on its rock.”
I am grateful to have the drive, inspiration, ability, and time to make so many prints and engage so much in photography. (And for the income, small tho it is, that it provides.) I am grateful for the roof over my head and the house that attempts to store all that photographic output. I know that this season of my life will pass, and with it (more than likely) a great deal of stuff. My only child is growing up. Her room (speaking of messes) won’t always be cluttered with toys. There may come a day, in a fit of pique, when I load up my jeep and drive the whole lot of stuff that causes me grief to the local Goodwill. I’ve always found the process of getting rid of excess very cathartic. For now, however, as a woman of a certain age who feels keenly the state of her surroundings, all this crap is driving me nuts.
The photographs included here were all made last week, when I wrote this at a moment of tear-my-hair-out annoyance. Step one: make pinhole photographs (with Ondu) that reflect my mental state. Step two: write. Step three: prioritize cleaning up and reorganizing.