At warhol.org they say that they are a ‘collecting project’ also known as ‘time capsules’. From the early 1970’s to his death in 1987. Warhol filled 610 moving boxes, over 8,000 cubic feet of mementos from his daily life. When one was full, an assistant would seal it with tape, put a date on it and send it to storage in Jersey.
These boxes were a form of clutter management for Warhol, kept beside his desk, the boxes where always uniform in size. Added to almost daily with magazine articles, art supplies, fan letters, an almost complete set of Interview magazine (which he co-founded) and other random things that contributed to his creative process, the collection is now housed in the museum archives of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Click here for a fabulous interactive look into time capsule 21.
Warhol intended the boxes to be eventually sold as art. The irony is that it is actually the biggest art project in his career and was never sold. Instead it sits in the archives with each box’s contents meticulously archived by the 3 full time archivists dedicated to this one job.
In an attempt to make it more ‘art like’ some boxes have been opened onstage in front of an audience but you never know what you are going to get… With the most recent ‘onstage opening’ revealing nothing more than a bunch of junk mail and a hoarders trove of correspondence.
All of us have some boxes like this. Boxes that you uncover when moving or organizing that you want to send directly to the shredder. Something stops you and you sit down to sift through the piles when you find an old photo or an ID badge from your first job and that old box becomes your own personal time capsule. Unlike Warhol, you don’t have 3 archivists sifting through your boxes or a museum waiting to make an exhibition out of it. The question becomes when do you let go of this personal clutter? Because one day, like it or not, someone will.