Collecting is a compulsive activity; it is a way to gain control over the world and it serves as a mirror to the collector. Due to its fetishist nature, compiling a collection is a way to decontextualise objects and place them in a new configuration. A collector enjoys analogies and differences but, first and foremost, he appreciates minor differences within his field of interest. He elevates triviality into something of particular interest.
In this project, my collection concerned people’s stories and thoughts about objects.
In March 2010, I have been working in the Recycling Centre in Antwerp, on a project that focuses on the interaction between men and objects. My aim was to intimately investigate the complex relation that men maintain with objects. TRACINGS is a multifaceted project: It combines conceptual and multimedia art as well as artistic action. I filmed, interviewed people and took pictures which resulted in various multimedia installations: 12 films (together more or less 9 hours), a piece of furniture full of objects, a reconstructed bed,… (read more)
Compilation of answers to the questions: ‘Does an object have a soul?’, ‘Does it lives?’ and ‘What about his concept?’ These and many other philosophical and concrete questions were asked to the employees when an object passed them in their travel through the system of the recycling centre. Mounting all this material, 6 themes became clear in which the 6 films were arranged. The thoughts and the way how one think about an object invokes an identity and asks the question to the spectator, since no image of the speaker is shown. In that way the question itself and the interaction between speaker – artist – public becomes meaningful.
A publication accompanied the project with contributions of experts of the disciplines which my project had to deal with.
With philosophers Dieter Roelstraete and Christophe Van Eecke, anthropologist Rik Pinxten and psychologist Ellen Reymers.
Editor Hugo Durieux, March 2012, Dutch/English, ISBN 978-94-6190-817-9
‘… The renewed interest in both things and thing theory in art and culture more generally is clearly informed, I believe, by something akin to ‘digital fatigue’: the more our lives appear under threat of dissolving into an ocean of zeroes and ones, the stronger our craving to be reminded of the irreducible materiality and physicality of our being-in-the-world. And this reminding the thing does better than anyone (i.e. any-thing) else. … It is this “social life” – along with Arvatov’s camaraderie, along with thingness itself – which Michels is after in her work. What things tell people, and what people tell things – these are the conversations overheard in the appositely titled Tracés.’ Dieter Roelstraete
Exhibition M hka Extra Muros en Collectie intervention, March 2012:
Installation in a house near the Recycling shop, Kroonstraat Borgerhout (Antwerp), with my films (4 films ‘Portraits’, 6 films ‘Things’, the film ‘Travel through the Recycling Centre’ and the film ‘House’), collected objects in the ‘Furniture with things’, and the reconstruction of a bed coming from the house of a woman that died (film ‘House’), shown alongside 14 works of art from the M HKA collection, selected because of their relationship with the project.
Exhibition in Netwerk Aalst, April – May 2012:
Installation in ‘Fat Birds don’t Fly’, a group exhibition about people and their (de)constructed identity.
On the basis of what someone thinks and says about an object, you experience an identity. Conversely, the items gather meanings themselves, gaining properties that go beyond what one might ascribe to them.
The 6 films ‘Things’ were shown in the middle of the projection of the ‘Travel through the Recycling Centre’. With this multitude of images and sounds, an overall picture arises where images and voices cross each other.
Exhibition in Lokaal 01 Breda, November 2012:
On the occasion of the next filmproject Time in a gaze/Words about (dis)appearing things, also shown in Lokaal 01, the 6 films ‘Things’ were remixed on the base of the notion of time and its influence on what people told about things. This new montage is shown together with the ‘Furniture with things’ and the ‘Travel through the Recycling Centre’.
Texts and Articles (in Dutch):
Text M HKA Extra Muros: publiekstekst Bie
Article of Paul Ilegems: http://theartserver.org/artikels/2012/03/28/traces-tracings-een-rondreis-in-het-walhalla-van-het-object/
Articles in M HKAzine:
Articles in H art: