Secret Stash

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Secret Stash: Accumulation, Hoarding and the Love of Stuff

There is a popular statistic that shows that although North Americans make up only eight per cent of the world’s population, they consume one third of the world’s resources and produce half of its garbage. North Americans consume at breathtaking rates, often amassing mountains of goods, the ownership of which produces contradictory feelings of guilt, comfort and greed. “Secret Stash” examines the tension inherent in the drive to collect, hoard and stash. But it does so through a series of photographs and installations that are deeply conflicted in their relationship to ownership and accumulation. Works by Germaine Koh, Allyson Mitchell, Payton Turner and Kelly Wood unsettle issues of acquisition and accrual, bringing to light questions of labour, consumerism and memory.

Each of the works in Secret Stash takes innocent or familiar objects – sweaters, stickers, shopping carts, blankets and cushions – and reveals something deeper at work: the exhausting task of reworking hundreds of sweaters or applying thousands of stickers, the careful collection of goods that might otherwise be considered garbage. The works suggest an over-saturation, a connection to goods and objects that is too strong and occasionally overwhelming. Most are playful, fun, and colourful. But together, they present an archeology of an affluent society, collected, reassembled, organized and arranged into patterns that both disguise and reveal clutter and social norms of possession and dispossession. The exhibition plays on the idea that over-consumption has turned North American society into a hoarding one, that is, a society that finds both beauty and challenge in the amassing and accrual of objects.

Read and download catalogue here.

Secret Stash

Germaine Koh Install - McIntosh

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About Kirsty Robertson

Kirsty Robertson is an Associate Professor of contemporary art and museum studies at the University of Western Ontario.

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