When I think of collecting and displaying I am conflicted.
Christmas ornaments bring joy. Collections lovingly procured and/or handed down. Stored all year to be given a spotlight each December. I accept this spectacle as rational tradition.
However, Collecting can be obsessive. As a girl I admired our neighbors display of art and china. Today I still think them beautiful on their own, each individual piece, but as a mass panoply they have become garish. A cluttered mess of dust-covered stuff.
I wonder if it is the intent behind the collection which dictates it’s worth?
Some collections are gathered for data, insight and education. Others for remembrance and posterity, a history lesson preserved and passed along. In these arrays there is a spirit of participation, collectively sharing what beauty or lessons the compilation has to offer
On the other hand when an exhibition becomes obsessive, and joy comes not so much in the acquiring but in the attaining. It can feel like an intimidating assembly of many. Bearing down, outnumbering the observer, an uncomfortable horde. It is the difference between a private collection of rocks or bottle caps on a window sill quietly giving the owner pleasure and the outlandishly bragged about collection of trophies brazenly displayed for all to envy.
When the ego aspires to have all of something and have it before anyone else. When it needs to flaunt the accumulation, when pleasure comes from covetousness of others, then the panoply is tainted. Becoming nothing more than a crutch vainly needed to support one’s self-worth.