Friday, May 16, 2008

5/10/08 Redundancy and déjà vu

After three years of documenting sales in what is a relatively small part of one city in America all things begin to repeat. The area I have concentrated on is less than ten square miles and I am seldom more than three miles distant my own home. So with this limitation the same homes and the same clutter start to appear again and again. Beyond this I start to find that that even if the sales are different I start seeing the same stuff over and over. So begins another Saturday morning.

Harold Ave. - Lake Claire “Yard Sale”

This was the first of two sales posted on the artnews listserv which daily informs me what is happening in the arts community while clogging my email inbox. Underneath a white tent shelter in the driveway was a selection on interesting clutter but much less art stuff than I expected. The main art item was a festival booth tent the seller was getting rid off since squirrels had chewed up its roof tarp. Other stuff under the larger non-rodent chewed tent was a selection of VHS tapes, a book of alien tattoos (alien designs not tattoos for aliens) a pair of red cowboy boots, a selection of large feathers, a pair of tuxedos, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, an old Singer sewing machine, a Furby, a plastic trash can holding oars and rackets and a plastic chair from Ikea. While I was there a cat wandered about the clutter. The seller tried to get his cat to pose on something interesting. After considerable effort the feline finally reclined on the box of VHS tapes.
Redundancy –a few weeks ago a seller spent a lot of time getting his dog to sit in a recliner for a photo op.
I bought nothing.

Cat posing on videotapes

Terrace Ave. – Candler Park “Yard Sale”

Among the items mentioned on the fliers for this sale were swords. I wondered what sort person in Candler Park would be selling off their saber collection or would even want their neighbors to know they collected swords. When I arrived I found that this was the third time I had been to a sale at this home overlooking the park. The initial thing I did was to seek out stuff I had seen in past visits. In the yard I found an oversized cloth doll and a jeep radio. Both items had been photographed in past years. There was some new stuff here such the box of swords. But they were not Civil War or Samurai artifacts, instead a small cardboard box was filled with potentially harmless children’s plastic novelty foils and cutlasses. Along side the faux fencing gear were boxes of other novelty items such as smiley face toys, cloth balls and plastic whistles. Other stuff scattered about included a pile of caps, a lamp with a nautical motif, a folding bicycle, the Huff and Puff game, a large coffee urn and a stack of Chinese take out food containers (new, not used).
Redundancy– The doll and the jeep radio continue to reappear but are indifferent parts of the yard each year.
I bought nothing.

Plastic sword collection.

A doll I've seen before.

N. Virginia – Virginia Highlands “Yard Sale”

This was yet another sale listed by an artist in artnews. Here I found in front of a quadplex apartment building a fanciful array of clutter. On the grass was a blanket filled with colorful plush figures from children’s media, -Cat in the Hat, Curious George, Kermit, Mickey, Tigger and several others. They appeared to have never been touched by a child. Other pristine kids things included two baby dolls one festooned with large somewhat frightening rabbit ears and several toy devil characters. Other stuff laid out on the grass included two wigs, a OUIJA board, a copy of the Book of Love, a country trivia game, a selection of throw pillows and two religious tapestries. On a bookcase was a collection of snow globes and a novelty can with a label that said “Inflatable Toy Boy”. Hanging nearby on a coat rack were two sets of angel wings one white and one black.
There was some art for sale a large nude painting and several photographs of the Clermont Lounge. Near the photos was an old 120 reflex camera.
Redundancy this artist was selling two of the same plastic Ikea chairs that the first artist sale had. These chairs must have a great first impression on artistic types.
I bought nothing.

The Ikea chair again.

Disturbing doll display.

Cute demonic figures.

Virginia Ave.- Virginia Highlands “Yard Sale”

When I arrived here I realized I had been to a sale here before, the sellers then told me I had been here before. The memory jogger on this event was the display of pet portraits on easels in the front yard. It seems the seller is a professional pet portrait artist. Since the sellers realized I was “that guy who takes photos at yard sales” they began rearranging their pile of beanie babies into a more aesthetic array. I attempted to explain that documentary work should not be affected by the presence of the artist but they continued the arrangement. Thankfully they did not move the pile of picture frames strewn across the grass, which made a very strong and geometric image. Most of the stuff here I had seen before or a least it looked like what I had seen before. Especially the table full of 1960’s popular magazines. One table held some stuff that I may not have seen but it was all so generic with a HP printer, some serving dished and a few items of kitchen ware it seem to make no difference. In a way I hope this same stuff is back out on the street next year.
Redundancy– The sellers remembered me and somewhere and in my achieves is a photograph of the same magazines. Will somebody please search my archives in the left column and find it.
I bought nothing.

Some magazines I've seen before.

Barnett St. – Virginia Highlands ‘Yard Sale”

I had never been to this sale before and I have not seen any of the stuff before. Upon arriving the sellers saw my camera and greeted me with “You must be that guy that takes pictures at yard sales”. They did not rearrange anything but did want me to photograph their dog. But they did not pose the dog. Who was tied to a post near the stuff. Among the stuff lining the sidewalk in front of a brick home was an antique lamp, a shabby chic birdhouse, a brass chandelier, a few plates and a few antique looking shelving units. On the sidewalk was an old framed oil painting of a cat catching a goldfish. The seller told me it used to hang in her room as a child.
Redundancy - Seller wanted me to photograph their pet. In addition at an estate sale two years ago I came across a strikingly similar painting of a cat attempting to eat a goldfish. The original work featured a tuxedo cat this one depicted a tabby.
I bought nothing.

The fish eating cat returns.

Rosedale Rd.- Virginia Highlands “Yard Sale”

This sale was a small event at the end of a man’s driveway. There was not much here when I arrived except for a stack of stereo components, a pair of ceramic jack o lanterns, a few items of men’s clothing, a large joystick, a small shelf unit shaped like a canoe and a digital camera. On the ground I found two garden gnomes and in a cardboard box marked free I found a Club car security device without it’s key. I presume it could be used simply as a club.
Redundancy - Only that the two garden gnomes were reminiscent of my much beloved “Drunken Gnomes” photograph that has been in several exhibitions and was featured on the invite of one of my shows.

I bought nothing.


Paper Dolls for Boys said...

Hi "That Guy Who Takes Photos",
Just curious, are you excited to see stuff you've seen before? Annoyed? Or are you focused on documenting and not emotionally invested?

I'm fascinated by this site!

Yard Sale Addict said...

I attempt to remain aloof and simply document what I see. But I do find it remarkable that some stuff reappears year after year while other stuff goes from one yard to another. I have overheard on several occasions someone telling their spouse "that's just gonna end up at our yard sale". Sometimes I am touched when I see year after year vain attempts to sell some unsellable item. I find this sad but on the other hand the seller may have more than ample garage or basement space and doesn't mind dragging the stuff out every Spring. Hope springs eternal in the mind of the clutter collector.

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