Kazio Sosnowski Class of 2011

Barrytown is a small place, with a population of under two hundred, no library, local government or community center. The hamlet's last remaining public building, the post office at the end of Station Hill Road, closed in 2002.

I believe in making work about where I live. Since I arrived in Barrytown in 2008, I've been fascinated by its past and current idiosyncrasies - as I dug deeper, I turned up plenty of leads that I had to follow: a downtown industrial center of which there is no longer any trace, an unsolved murder, a famous silver heist, several dramatic train accidents, the training center of a global cult, the remnants of a vanished aristocracy, a parade of famous and somewhat famous artists, writers and eccentrics. I've become addicted to the act of digging, not in search of the truth so much as the stories. I get especially excited about finding artifacts, photographs and documents that can be read not just as history but as art: accidental art.

The found object as sculpture is firmly established in 20th century art. Taking an object out of its context, titling it, asserting that it has some importance - this was the radical gesture of Duchamp's Fountain, and not unlike the process by which an artifact is removed from its context to be placed in a history museum. It's all about directing the viewer's attention to one thing as opposed to another, and asserting with some authority that a particular object or image deserves to be seen. Simply putting something - anything - in a glass case or on a pedestal initiates a total transformation of the object, and the gesture carries with it a definite sense of authority.

It seems at times that there isn't much difference between an artist and a collector, though both exist in many species. There is the art collector that drives the contemporary art market, but there is also the everyday stamp collector, the obsessive collector of Dylan memorabilia, the collector of obscure insects. Then there are the truly obsessive-compulsive collectors: hoarders and the like. I see the act of collecting as an artistic act, not too different from going out into the world and making photographs. Collecting and photography are both essentially forms of editing the world, deciding what to exclude, what to include, and how to represent it. What I'm most interested in is blurring the lines between these different kinds of collecting; to confuse the notions of art and artifact.

THE BARRYTOWN ARCHIVE is the result of three years of research. Photographs, documents and artifacts dating from the mid-19th century to the present have been assembled from several local collections for the first time to form a publicly accessible research collection devoted specifically to Barrytown's history and community.

Portfolio Samples