On Collecting

‘Objects in this sense have another aspect which is intimately bound up with the subject”

What really interested me this week was Jean Baudrillard’s view of collecting and possessions in The System of Objects. I really enjoyed the way in which Baudrillard dissected the idea of an object and its function. I found myself deeply agreeing to his philosophy and started reflecting back on the objects I own and may I say ‘collected’ in the past few years and how they may reflect myself.

While trying to differentiate my obsession with strappy heels to, say my collection of pink and bunny stuffed toys, I applied Baudrillard’s theory of the collected property being something that is ‘abstracted from its use’. If you know me then you would know about my obsession with high heels and by looking at my wardrobe, it is not hard to point out that I distinctively own a lot more of those that are strappy. Prior to this idea of removal of the function in an object, I used to refer to my strappy heels as a sort of collection but now that I think about it, could I really say that my shoe collection have that much meaning to me? Of course I like it but only because it is beautiful AND I can wear it too, it’s because it is aesthetically pleasing but also have a function I enjoy.

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Left: my stuffed toy, Momo which I bought on a family holiday to Japan (the manufacturer said she is a rabbit in a jumpsuit which i find ridiculously good, I’ve had her for a long time and she is what I would consider a cherished item (perhaps something that triggered my obsession?)

Right: A smaller version of Momo (I have several of this size, in different styles) which I consider a part of my large collection, As you can see in the colour difference, she is untouched and lives mostly in a box!

Now, looking at another set of objects that I seem to own a lot of but never really thought of seriously as a collection until perhaps now, I understood what Baudrillard means. It may sound strange but throughout the years, I have unconsciously collected many stuffed toys that are bunnies. Most of them are in the shades of pink with fluffy textures (and now you may see why I never took them seriously as a collection!) and a lot are manufactured in Japan. I don’t know what it is about them that really catches my eye but every time I see one, I feel the need to buy it. I never play with them but I store them in boxes or on a shelf. Once I moved her to New York City, I brought 2 with me and they live in a box next to my bed. They somehow make me feel at ease, a sense of nostalgia about them. Perhaps it is due to my background of moving so much, I collect objects that relates to something stable like a childhood. I used to think they were quite silly for someone considered grown up but after this week’s reading, I definitely look at my ‘collection’ with a lot more thought and realization of how it may reflect my identity.

One response to “On Collecting

  1. Cute collection:) and they just remind me of my own collection of different sheep toys at home in China and some I brought here in New York. My parents sometimes have the question, or maybe worry about my enthusiasm of those toys since I’m 24, no a little girl anymore. For them, practical value is the first thing to take into consideration, but I consider the meaning of any collection is the sense of possession and the way that the collector gives the meaning to the collection. They can’t speak and think, so most of time as a collector, I will automatically put my emotion into them, give them a so-called “new life”. In this case, whenever I see a new sheep toy in store, I feel like I have to bring it back to my collection, sometimes this obsession did make me feel anxious. As Jean Baudrillard stated, the fulfillment of the project of possession always means a succession or even a complete series of objects. This is why owning absolutely any object is always so satisfying and so disappointing at the same time: a whole series lies behind any single object, and makes it into a source of anxiety.

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