Obsession is defined as the “compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.” Despite the abstract jargon, the term simply refers to a prolonged overindulgence in thought or in action. Needless to say, the entire human population is obsessed to varying degrees. While some cannot help but check their Twitter feed or update their Facebook status every five minutes, the classically obsessed are those fixated on persons, objects or experiences. In the case of serial collectors, sometimes even all three.
At the 5th edition of CreativeMornings Utrecht (20 July 2012), artist and collector Pet van de Luijtgaarden has taken collecting to the extreme with his “mega summer exhibition”, Gullivers Verzamelingen (Gulliver’s Collections). Unveiled at the Jaarbeurs Utrecht, this collection of collections was meticulously acquired, compiled and arranged in the image and likeness of traveler extraordinaire, Lemuel Gulliver. The artist and his Lilliputian team assembled the giant mosaic piece-by-piece, painstakingly organizing an infinite number of items by color, size and type.
What began as an innocent love affair with caps has evolved into a colossal stockpile of various things, spanning almost 14,000m2. With volume as the cardinal requirement, Van de Luijtgaarden fervently combed the online listings of Marktplaats and other Internet forums over the last three years in search of uniquely large collections. Combined with a bevy of objects donated by like-minded enthusiasts and several pieces on loan from the Centraal Museum, the sheer vastness and diversity of collectibles on display was truly overwhelming.
“The point is to get lost in the collections,” says Van de Luijtgaarden, “and to have fun with them.” As an artist, he is deeply fascinated by our affinity for material things and their perceived importance. As a collector, he cherishes the hunt. Whether or not the value of his vintage He-Man action figures appreciates over time or the endless sea of phone cards, cassette tapes and lighters pales in comparison, the artisan-collector greatly admires the creativity and imagination intrinsic to the items’ inception.
“When will it stop?” asks Van de Luijtgaarden, referring to his ever-increasing army of Batman figurines. “When will we stop creating an imaginary figure?” As with goods, the artist posits that the production and consumption of these collectible pieces are subject to the laws of supply and demand. Be that as it may, the uncompromising mantra of any respectable collector will always be “Collect them all!”
Ultimately, the aim of Gullivers Verzamelingen is not to berate the accumulative nature of man, but to celebrate it. At a period marred by crises, we need only to take a look at what we have to realize our wealth. “It took 3 years to collect everything,” say Van de Luijtgaarden. “What more in 10 or 20 years? What more can we collect? If you look at all the stuff you have and put them all together, I guess most people can make a giant like this as well.” ✌
☞ For more information on Pet van de Luijtgaarden, Gullivers Verzamelingen, CreativeMornings Utrecht and CreativeMornings™, visit the websites listed below:
♫ Listen to Pet van de Luijtgaarden’s exclusive interview with phillipgangan:
CreativeMornings Utrecht x phillipqgangan Q&A: Pet van de Luijtgaarden (Coming soon)