* installations of MQ Daily restaurant were used as a temporary 'office' for administrating the Vanishing Archive.
of daily discarded items
archival specimens / specimen's history / archival context /
specimen evolution / collections / entire archive /
The freezing month of February 2018 I found myself in the MuseumQuartier artist in residence programme in Vienna, with the emperatures dropping to -20 degrees. My initial research proposal concerning feminist economies planned to involve lots of social activities got impeded for poor weather conditions and I had to limit the operation span to my closesed surrounding shifting the focus of work on the daily routine activities. While taking advantage of dwelling into the interiors of the great museum collections (for what I usually never had time) such as Natural History, Art History and Welt Museum spontaneously I started to build my own collection of all the things which otherwise woud end up in waste, if not saved in that way. All sorts of bits and pieces remaining from my daily living, so as of other people who occasionally would pass by my space and leave their material traces. Being accordingly meisured, decribed, thus sorted and classified according to diverse categories, all those items with no further purpose, started to develop into a complex systematised base for exploring the material aspect of consumption and production embeded in our daily life.
The Archive also became a tool for a multi-pronged research: to bring in front invisible materiality of daily life by collecting objects of a short life span which use value had been exhausted and are destined to waste (1), to research relations between items and the human activity from a perspective of the logic impliied by material properties and/or technology involved in their creation (2), and finally as the final destiny of the collection items was to vanish in current state and again become useful, to induce and observe it's possible return to a life cycle, while observing labor and technological process required for performing this task (3).
To emphasize its ephemeral character, period of Archives constitution is symbolically marked by the growing stages of perennial Hyacinth plant I had brought to the studio in the first days of my arrival when it only begun to sprout from its 3 bulbs. The growth of the plant follows the constitution of the Archive and determines the end of collection process, encompassing a period of approximately one month when the 3 already flawn Hyacinth flower stems were cut and deposited into the Collection as its last item to be registered.
Methodology used in systemization, taxonomy and classification of the Archive, follows examples found in the great museum collections surrounding MQ: Natural History Museum, Welt Museum and Kunst Historic Museum, but also by University Botanical garden, Narrenturm (Museum of Pathology), Carla - Caritas department store, particular exhibitions, texts and books I was reading, specialists I was talking to, or simple environmental occurrences. The related cultural, social or environmental context in which constitution of the Archive took place, regarding the selection, sorting, organizing and displaying of the items is represented in the Archival Context section.
As I found myself in a capacity of a 'producer' of archived items, by the simple activity of doing, living and consuming, I also aimed to provide information about the items' history and/or provenance, as far as my limited experience with objects had reached. If I was not able to provide comprehensive mapping of geographical provenance of all collected items, a task that would require much deeper research (suggested by Benjamin Steininger), at least it was possible to get an idea of the original purpose of the items and their places of distribution. This information is given in the section Specimens History.
Collected items are sorted in sections according to their material properties - their consistency and utility which are found to be often intertwined. Sections are further subdivided into more specific materials, such as plastic, paper, organic matter, etc. due to their physical and chemical properties, and how these affect their material usefulness.
Some items were left by people who passed by the studio, which have been included into the personal collections. Other collections have been constituted by applying diverse criteria in processing the archive.
As stated earlier, aim of the Collection was not to preserve the items in its current state. For some of them changing state was immanent, as they are of organic nature, and through exposure to the atmosphere they are either decomposing or instead they are developing life and growth (as in the case of the avocado and lemon seeds). Others, such as paper and cardboard are easily broken down by soaking them in water. For others, such as plastic, metal and glass certain technology involving heat and pressure is required to break them and recompose.
This process of organizing, classifying, documenting and transforming an apparently chaotic collection of items required large amounts of labor. It is observed that most of the de-purposed objects require time, work and energy to be brought to functional state that equals or exceeds the time, work or energy necessary for their initial production or generation.
Curiously it was also observed that the purpose of a majority of the items in the collection (around 75%) had the original purpose of containing and/or protecting contents that were consumed, either them being a natural and organic such as various fruit barks and rinds, or artificial man-made items, such as various kinds of packaging, boxes, trays, bags, wrappings, etc. Another well-represented group of items identified in collection was of administrative and regulative purposes such as tickets, receipts, etc (around 20%).
Finally it is worth saying something about the potential aspects of functionality and purposefulness of discarded items, which was set as the final aim of the Archive, and its termination - as it would enable release (de-cataloging) of items from the Collection. Material functionality could be contemplated in social or environmental terms - recomposed (recycled) individual objects could be functional for the human/social ends and purposes, while objects decomposed into smaller particles will find its function in natural ecosystems. However, even if we were to extend the lifespan of the objects we use, their lifetime would still be finite, and the materials which constitute them specially if they are artificially made (man-made) they would also require specific technical capabilities on the part of humans in order to be decomposed.