“A collection of cans (2009)” (found Ikea-shelf, cans found on Staten Island beaches, found pillows)
One of Tomas Ronse’s artworks from the Value Pack show: a collection of found cans in various stages of decomposition arranged on a discarded Ikea shelf.
Everything is collected in this world. In his book ‘Descent of Man’ (Penguin Books, 1978), T. Coraghessan Boyle tells a story about a man who collects cans and roams the earth in search of the rarest specimen. His “trophy room boasted an unblemished copy of every american can produced in the past four decades”.
The cans in my collection are anything but unblemished. His cans were worth a fortune, mine have no value. But which are more beautiful, more interesting? My cans have gone through a lot, they have a story to tell. I keep picking them up, wiping the sand from them, polishing them with my sleeve. I will need to find another shelf soon.
Why do we have the urge to collect? According to psychiatrist and neuroscientist Peter Whybrow, author of “American Mania: When more is not enough” (Norton, 2005), the reason is that our brain was formed during times of almost constant scarcity. The permanent threat of having too little, lead to a genetic encouragement of eating too much, of collecting possessions. But while we are made by a world of scarcity, we have created a world of potential abundance. We need to change. Guided by instincts, we become fatter and sicker, we stupidly continue to collect more money and things, even if we have more than we could possibly could spend or use.
Tomas Ronse, 2009
(Close-up photos of each shelf, after the fold…)
Note: “Quetzalcóatl Lite” is the title of the can-collector story included in the “Decent of Man” collection. (I will definitely need to read that one.)
Beach Packaging Design