For most of us, material possessions can be a blessing and a curse. Even the most practical and sentimental of our stuff can often feel as if it's weighing us down. And then there's the crap we're holding on to for no good reason at all. In an effort to cut through the clutter, two artists in Los Angeles have embarked on a yearlong mission: Anything they haven't publicly documented by December 31 must be donated or thrown away.
"It's easy to pack away, throw away, and give away your things," photographer Corey Vaughan
told us. "But it's an interesting challenge to really meditate over the things I've collected over the years. I want to take pride in the things I have chosen to keep. If I'm not happy or proud to own it, maybe it's time to remove it from my life."
The same goes for his friend and partner in minimalist crime, illustrator Emily Okada
. Together they've created Every Little Everything
, a website to track their progress. "I'm hoping for a fuller understanding of myself," she told us. "I'm hoping to gain pride in the things I hold dear, and let go of everything else."
But the project isn't without struggles. "It's a rewarding thing to revisit old memories, moments, travels, etc.," Vaughan told us. "But it also can be difficult. There have been a few items that have reminded me of times that were once great, of things I've said, of mistakes I've made. It's still a worthy thing, though, looking through memories and tokens that hold weight and context and story." Luckily, the two have each other for encouragement. "Having another artist work with me keeps me moving. There's an accountability; it's nice to know someone else is slogging through their stuff with me," he says.
The rules are simple: If they haven't publicly documented it — Vaughan by photographing it, Okada by illustrating it — by New Year's Day, 2016, it's got to go. And while disposable things like shampoo and food aren't being included, mundane essentials (like dishes and socks) and more private ones (like underwear and receipts) must be documented to be kept, which provides an interesting challenge. "This project doesn’t allow for me to be as careful or guarded as usual," Okada told us. "I tried to start on a panties poster, but it wasn’t working, so we’ll see how that goes!"
Ahead, Okada and Vaughan share their favorite posts to date with us.