(im)permanence

What do you collect?

Why do you collect?

Collecting is a deeply human impulse, rooted in the desire to preserve memory in the face of rapid political, environmental, and technological change.

In order to quell fears of entropy and change, humans assume a level of control over these anxieties by possessing objects such as the ones featured in this collection. By doing so, collectors seek to preserve a set of memories, both personal and collective. Romantic and sentimental visions of the past privilege retrospection over the present moment. Nostalgia is a seductive force that purports an attainable past. When objects are imbued with a nostalgic tone our relationship with them grows complicated. They become more than a dated photograph, print or painting, to be almost inseparable from the enticing past moment that they represent. In obtaining objects connected to the past, we seek to control our own modern anxieties by possessing tangible representatives of a seemingly better time.

Museums are devoted to this notion, providing a space for the preservation of objects deemed important. Museums have historically presented a hierarchy of cultural memory, privileging what is considered “high art” over the mass-produced or every day. Collectibles such as postcards and souvenir photographs allow us to simultaneously possess and process change, making this type of material culture worthy of discussion in the museum space alongside fine art. By exploring objects from the early modern to contemporary moment, (im)permanence highlights the importance of individual and collective memory to our uncertain relationship with modernity.