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The Accumulation Project

Things pile up... the stuff that makes up our lives expands at a constant rate. The negotiation between what stays and what goes is ongoing. What is junk... what is worth keeping? How could we bear to get rid of this? More importantly ... how did we get all this stuff in the first place?

Last September a group of nineteen artists were chosen to participate in an experimental art venture that explored these very dilemmas. Over the course of a year they set out to consciously accumulate, documenting the process in a series of monthly updates along the way. The resulting web project explores the impulse behind why we gather, amass, collect and save.

The surprisingly divergent group emphasizes different facets of the complex acts of acquisition and display. From the choice of the distinct accumulates to the means of assembling them, each artist sets up an individual ritual. The results are equally diverse, ranging from the pithy humor of Shan Raoufi's near-indecent public interventions to the haunting sweetness of Barbara Nasto's shared shrine of prayer candles, the accumulation project runs the gamut of human expression.

Some highlights from the site include, Lisa Dahl's poetically named series "Discarded Dreams" in which she collects photographs of abandoned mattresses. Songyi Kim keeps tabs on her life and its daily obsessions through the ever-growing mass of post-it notes. Ideas of over-consumption and waste are examined in Irene Chan's series of collected and charted barcodes. Some involve the community in their individual pursuit; Jill Greenberg, who is gathering remnant slivers of bar soap, has received donations from strangers across the country in an oddly intimate exchange. Mauro Altamura reverses the project into de-accumulation by sending personal items to significant people in his past. All of the artists involved –including Michael Anderson, Paul Baumann, Eric Brown, Karly de Fries, Tamara Gubernat, Peter HappelChristian, Curt Ikens, Sam Imperatrice, Caleb Larson, Presley Martin, Sergio Milla, and Laura Mylott Manning - go beyond the simple gathering of materials, questioning larger issues of obsession and ownership, consumerism and control.

With so much interesting ephemera to dig through, it is easy to get caught up in the details of this web-based project. The site is a breeze to navigate, and the viewer is rewarded with insightful bits of documentation along the way, including written commentary, short video loops and audio projects. The experience of browsing through www.accumulationproject.org hovers somewhere between scientific research and voyeurism – the visual equivalent to hours spent digging around a flea market. But come to think of it... maybe that's the appeal. In the end, isn't other people's stuff infinitely more interesting than our own?

Visit the Accumulation Project at www.accumulationproject.org- where you can look explore the projects in detail and learn how to contribute.

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