Collecting printed matter is inherently nostalgic. In The Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin says of the collector, “Perhaps the most deeply hidden motive of the person who collects can be described this way: he takes up the struggle against dispersion.”1 As his recent posthumous exhibition at the Queens Museum demonstrated, artist and poet Robert Seydel (1960–2011) had a talent for collecting and assembling. Curators Peter Gizzi, Richard Kraft and Lisa Pearson described him as “an exceedingly solitary man who spent untold hours each day reading and studying, writing and making art.” His collection of books, photographed by Kraft, was vast, as was the range of sources for his collages—“debris from the street, forgotten photographs, and faded scraps of paper.”2 More peculiarly, Seydel’s collections, collages and journals were often done under assumed identities, such as the reclusive poet S. and the professor R. Welch.3
- Walter Benjamin, “The Collector,” in The Arcades Project (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 211.
- Peter Gizzi, Ricahrd Kraft, and Lisa Pearson, “Curator’s Statement,” in Robert Seydel: The Eye in the Matter (Queens: The Queens Museum), exhibition brochure, n.p.
- “About Robert Seydel,” in A Picture is Always a Book: Further Writings from the Book of Ruth (Los Angeles: Siglio Press, 2014), n.p.