Article: On cardboard boxes and Andy Warhol

A new article entitled, “The implied rummager: reading intimate interiors in Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules” by Anna Poletti published in the journal Life Writing offers “a speculative reading of a selection of objects and cardboard boxes from Andy Warhol’s monumental artwork, Time Capsules (1974–1984)” located at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Poletti explores questions of intimacy and materiality via what she refers to as “the mundane autobiographical technology of the cardboard box”. She poses the question: “What might this trip through six three-dimensional panels (six cardboard boxes) tell us about objects and intimacy and life writing?”

andy warhol's time capsules - Improvised Life
Warhol’s time capsules comprise 600 cardboard boxes filled with objects from his daily life.

The Time Capsules comprise over 600 cardboard boxes created over thirty years and they contain random objects from the artist’s daily life. Warhol would mark the date and sometimes the contents on the outside of the boxes before sending them to storage rooms. The time capsules in their simple, uniform boxes have been referred to as a sort of “deconstructed scrapbook”.

Time Capsules is, essentially, made up of hundreds of thousands of ephemeral objects with no real value beyond their tangential relationship to an iconic figure of the twentieth century. For these reasons, it is an artwork about which very little is written”, Poletti observes.3 

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Poletti explores the Time Capsules as part of her wider work on autobiography and storytelling across a wide variety of mediums, both digital and physical. She is particularly interested in autobiography beyond the book and the specific material practices that support documenting (and archiving) the self in contemporary culture. These ideas are developed in her new book Stories of the Self appearing soon from NYU Press.

Stories of the Self

PAPERBACK (9781479836666) AUGUST 2020

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