THE ART OF COLLECTING

Daniel Garza Usabiaga

Coleccionar/Pensar
Ediciones Acapulco, 2015

According to many anthropologists, the impetus for collecting objects is inherent to human beings. In fact, the act of accumulation is also found in other species. The difference lies in the systematization of what has been collected: an act that involves rationalization. Part of Marianna Dellekamp’s researches has focused on the construction of order that manifests in multiple ways. The title of the book, Collecting/Thinking is revealing.

Dellekamp has worked on different projects intervening private collections and libraries, and has delved into the systematization of objects in several museums. Two of her projects are examples of her endeavors: Press (2010) and Visual Inventory MUCA Roma (2012). In the first one, she assembled a collection of images with the collaboration of several people. In the second, she documented and gave visibility to everyday objects that form part of the university museum’s inventory, and presented them as one of the collections of the institution.

For Collecting/Thinking, Dellekamp invited eight professionals whose activities might relate to Medicine, to select a series of objects from the Museum of Medicine’s non-catalogued collection, and then present them in a showcase. Each collection of instruments, flasks, devices and implements, and the way it was displayed, reveal the individual rationality of two archeologists, an antiquarian, a student, a doctor, a salesperson and an industrial designer, among others.

In the photographs of the display cabinets, one perceives the decorative assembly of the antiquarian, the archeologists’ rejection of objects alien to the medical field and the doctor’s interest in showing the instrument’s functions. Dellekamp did her own selection of elements and documented them individually. This formal study on objects ranges from oddities and curiosities to the most standardized instruments in medical practice, which form part of the museum’s non-catalogued collection. While these objects await their correct systematization and will eventually fit, or not, in the order dictated by the institution, Dellekamp has used them to reveal the always indeterminate character of objects, their plasticity and how they can be appropriated and belong to different systems. The project also highlights the creative act involved in collecting, systematizing and displaying.