Art Sinsabaugh, Collector

I think looking back as far as about 37 when I was a kid with a cheep, chintzy camera that I had, I really was documenting my home town. In color. Kodachrome slide stuff. So I think it’s just a continuation of that and I don’t think … I think of these things as a collection, like I used to collect sand, I used to collect stamps, coins, rocks … when I had different interests that was supportive or generated the interest I don’t know what. I just think of this as another form of collecting. I know that when I went to Champaign from Chicago I had a hell of a job getting started again, and I suddenly realized that I shouldn’t be bringing back [?] posts and doors and rocks I should stop that. And after about two months I started photographing, bringing back photographs. Otherwise, bringing back the objects was a substitute for it.

Art Sinsanbaugh interviewed by Ralph Gibson (1978) for the book Landscape (1980)

I find the contrast between Art Sinsabaugh’s take on collecting and Sam Wagstaff’s to be really interesting, especially given the parallel disavowal of art. For Wagstaff, collecting photographs was fetishistic in a private sense—a search for erotic pleasure. For Sinsabaugh, it is an extension of seizing the real world and real world objects in a simpler pleasure of possession. Photographs are documentary, but in the sense that you get to take bits of the world home like a souvenir. I seem to recall that Susan Sontag used a line something like “to photograph is to collect the world.”

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