MEMORABILIA. COLLECTING SOUNDS WITH... Ed Veenstra. Part I
Produced by Genís Segarra
In reference to the work of the collector, Walter Benjamin wrote that the objects in a collection do not 'come alive in him; it is he who lives in them.' This quote is totally applicable to Dutch collector Ed Veenstra.
Suffering from asthma as a child, Veenstra spent the first years of his life virtually confined to his house. His parents, who had discovered the soothing properties of music, constantly played all types of records for him. According to him, this sealed his fate as a compulsive hunter of sound rarities. These days, Veenstra not only lives literally surrounded by his objects of desire, he also tells how he sacrificed his lifestyle and diet for years in order to acquire the more than 3,500 pieces that make up his collection.
Veenstra is one of the foremost collectors of Broken Music, an umbrella term coined by Ursula Block and Michael Glasmeier to refer to the musical and paramusical objects conceived by visual and other avant-garde artists experimenting with the record medium. The catalogue of the homonymous exhibition curated by Block and Glasmeir at Daad Galerie in Berlin in 1988 compiled much of the material that had been published up until then by artists from around the world.
From Marcel Duchamp’s kinetic-optical discs to Jean Dubuffet’s numerous musical experiments, Nam June Paik’s sound-themed performances and, of course, ontological reflections by Christian Marclay and many others, the catalogue (which collectors still venerate as the ultimate guide to the genre) compiled all types of record-objects, acoustic documents of art installations and events, anti-records, sound sculptures, and simply records designed to challenge the original function of the format and transcend the musical sphere.
With obsessive fetishism, Veenstra’s collection draws together the objects in this strange category that has been pushed into the background in conventional accounts. A no man’s land that lies between the art and musical establishments (without fitting into either of them) and offers a historical snapshot of several generations of creators who saw records as more than just another medium: an icon of the culture of the times, and a symbol of what Benjamin called 'the age of mechanical reproduction.'
Ed Veenstra collects musical objects of all types by artists who have worked with sound at some point in their careers. Records, but also what he calls Anti-records, strange, impossible formats that resist classification and approach the object from a radically different perspective, going beyond the traditional functions of the record medium.