Autobiography started in 2002 when I collected my lunch bags because I hoped to make a book from the worn paper. Years later, they became a chronological marker that defines my life. There are four distinct parts to the series, two of which are exhibited here: objects used to mark time (lunch bags, swimsuits, hair, etc.) and items that pinpoint a specific event centered around change or loss (5 objects photographed before thrown away and teeth).
I come from a family of collectors and I was taught at a very young age the importance of possessions. They define what we like to observe, what we perceive ourselves to be, what we once lost, and what we want to remember. Objects are retained to remind us of the good times more often than the bad but every once in awhile, a possession is not disposed of even if its presence is filled with negativity.
I save until an event occurs that indicates I should stop. It could be as life changing as moving to a new part of the country or as minute as my mother buying me a blue insulated lunch bag. I keep an item when I notice there is an excess. I try to discard these articles once photographed; this works in some pieces but not all. It is difficult throwing away the fingernails, the hair and the swimsuits as they are extensions of my body.
Everything is photographed in the style of studio documentary photography with a neutral background. If the bracelet is disintegrating leaving rust all over the white matboard, I want those details to be visible. If I photographed the objects on a cloudy day outdoors in Astoria, Oregon or in the studio at Ball State University, these differences must be apparent.
Christian Boltanski’s inventories from the 1970s in addition to Sol Lewitt’s Autobiography 1980 are important influences. I monumentalize the mundane, elevating sagging swimsuits and stained lunch bags into a higher status. These inconsequential objects are one aspect of my identity, easily disposable yet somehow kept.