“Have you ever laid out all your plates like a carpet, or piled furniture into a tower?”, asks the introduction to the Technical University Dortmund’s project, Alles, was ich habe [Everything that I possess]
Our answer to the last question is a categorical, yes.
It was one afternoon during our final year at secondary school, and together with a few chums we stacked all the common room furniture up against one wall. Just to see if we could. We could.
Alles, was ich habe is a little more fundamental, exploring as it does possessions and consumerism, and by extrapolation the global production, distribution and marketing industries that are sustained by both.
Staged in the TU Dortmund’s Seminar für Kulturanthropologie des Textilen under the leadership of designer Silke Wawro, the course Alles, was ich habe concerned itself with ecology and sustainability as reflected through the relationship between an individual and their possessions. To this end the students documented and classified their possessions, recorded them in photography and sketches and interacted with them thorough the creation of installations, the above noted plate carpets and furniture towers.
Processes of documentation, recording and installation intended to make the students aware of their possessions, the number of their possessions and the possibilities of their possessions. Processes of documentation, recording and instillation that have now been published in a book which encourages, beseeches, us all to do the same.
We haven’t read the complete book, have merely flicked (slowly) through it, but very much liked what we saw. Leading you through your house and life room for room, space for space, the book is a series of exercises which guide you through your possessions in a playful, accessible, but for illuminating manner: assuming that is you enter into the spirit of the exercises, approach the tasks sensibly and thereby allow the development of a deeper understanding of Alles was du hast
“OK. But Why?”
Because you posses way too much. And keep buying more. Even though you know you posses way too much.
You need help.
Back in 2012 Moritz Grund’s text One Hundred. An Experiment on Myself: A Designer’s Reckoning With Things, as the title cleverly suggests, documented Moritz’s attempts to reduce his total number of possessions down to just 100. A highly entertaining text and one which helps illustrate the nature of the problem and the (relative) ease with which one can, at least, start, to separate yourself from the unnecessary, when one is so inclined; it is however a documentation, leaves you to work things out for yourself in context of your own situation. And as we all know, the planning stage is when most good intentions stumble. Alles, was ich habe, is a guide for just that phase.
“OK, But Why? Why not just possess too much and keep on buying more?”
? Or to put it perhaps another, a better way, ????
While there is obviously nothing wrong with buying things, far less owning things, we all need to be more, and actively, aware, that globally we need to produce less, and producing less starts with consuming less, which means being more aware of what you have, what you need, and subsequently making better informed decisions about not only what you consume, but what you can repair, what you can produce yourself, what you can borrow, what you can adapt, what you can reuse, what you can do without, etc, etc, etc
Alles, was ich habe is an aid to help get you to just such a position.
And yes, before you pipe up again, we’ve also heard the prophesies of doom if global production should be reduced. But are you sure future society needs to be built on mass market, industrial production and global distribution? Really? Do new technologies, better understandings of the consequences of economic globalisation and evolving personal priorities not make new models possible, desirable……?
Such considerations may appear at first to be unrelated to the question as to how many bottles of cleaning products are in your bathroom, how many plates you posses or if you can build a tower from your furniture.
Full details on Alles, was ich habe, can be found at https://alleswasichhabe.com/ (Sadly only in German)