My interest in the phenomena of hoarding has both personal and cultural implications, and I have been documenting various instances of conspicuous consumption and collecting for several years. On September 22, 2011 I had the opportunity to document an extreme hoarding environment in Plattekill, NY. A rundown house in an upscale neighborhood had been reported to the Ulster County SPCA as being overrun with feral cats. The situation appeared to be an extreme example of animal hoarding and neglect. The photos document the physical condition of the house, but cannot begin to describe the smell and oppressive psychic energy of being in and around the space. It was apparent that at least one person was actually living in this house with over 30 cats, as there was fresh milk and food in the refrigerator. The entire house was filled with garbage, feces, mold and the intense and highly concentrated smell of ammonia and rotting organic matter. Most of the garbage bags seen in the photos are completely filled with cat feces. After my initial reactions of horror, anger and disgust, I found myself feeling pity and sadness for whomever was living under these conditions; human and animal alike. I was also confronted by my own hoarding tendencies writ large, and began to understand that the desire to collect things relates to a deep sense of nostalgia, loneliness and fear of forgetting one’s personal history. On an individual level, this mental illness reflects the culture of excess that produces commodities faster than they can be consumed or destroyed. In a broader context, Hoarder House serves as a cultural artifact shaped by the psychosociological consequences of the excessive consumerism and waste of late global capitalism.
As of the publishing date of this website no one has been identified or apprehended for any crime related to charges of animal cruelty; the investigation is ongoing.
Limited edition prints from this series are available in two sizes, as well as a 14 page “print on demand” artist’s ‘zine from the series for $9 plus shipping. Please contact the artist directly through the contact link for details.