What is the appeal of the objects we surround ourselves with? What happens to them after we have taken possession of them? And how does the relationship between things and their owners change over time?
They stand on our desks or on our bedside tables. We hang them on the wall or carry them discreetly in our pockets: the very personal things. No matter whether we call them amulets, talismans or mementos: They accompany us wherever we stay for longer. We make little private altars for them and find them beautiful – but what does that mean? And where does the magic come from that these very personal objects exert on us?
»Picking Up, Throwing Away« traces the history of our lucky charms and souvenirs from 21st century living rooms back to the material culture of the Middle Ages with its magical stones, pictures and rosaries. In the wealthy industrial societies of the modern age, personal possessions have multiplied explosively too. They fill our cellars, attics and closets to such an extent that sometimes we would like to get rid of them again and dream of a life with very few things, the right and important ones. It would make more sense ecologically anyway – but is it possible? An essay about the beautiful everyday things, about magic, guilty conscience, the utopia of rabid reduction and the daily clutter.