Possessions, At Length: Photographs, Cookbooks, and Bling

The At Length series surfaces writing that is not only worth reading but worth returning to again and again. We ask Substack writers to be guest curators for this series, recommending a few pieces of writing that orbit a central theme. The goal is to introduce readers to independent writers who are hiding in plain sight.

This week we invited art historian Andrea Gyorody to guest-curate At Length. Andrea writes Weekly Special, a Substack about the intersection of art and food. Below, she shares a selection of writings about the things we possess, the powerful objects that in turn possess us, and why she chose these posts.

Kaitlyn Greenidge

“The present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.”

Sit in on writer Kaitlyn Greenidge’s interview with Kimberly Henderson, curator of the Instagram account @emalineandthem. Their wide-ranging conversation on photography, Black life and the archive offers serious food for thought on the use of social media for reparative acts of public history. Read more.

Emily Nunn

Something New To Do with Tomatoes!

Food writer Emily Nunn owns a lot of cookbooks, including vintage volumes that take readers on a journey back in time and to various parts of the globe, from Denmark to colonial Williamsburg. Come for the nostalgia, stay for the recipes and real-talk social commentary. Read more.

Pablo Helguera

Unelected Affinities

Artist and educator Pablo Helguera (who also creates biting cartoons about the art world) considers sentimental value and how our sense of self is wrapped up in the objects we own. With a few illuminating anecdotes, Pablo makes the case that “emotional relationships sometimes get aesthetically entangled.” Read more.

Nishant Jain

Putting Things in Boxes

You never really know how much you have – or whether any of it is important to you – until you move. Days before relocating to Vancouver, artist and writer Nishant Jain takes stock of his belongings and the existential questions about value they pose. Read more.


Newsletter 005

Edited by a team of graduate students in art history and visual culture at the University of Oxford, this issue of Poltern features Kate McBride’s moving essay on three works by conceptual artist Felix González-Torres. Scroll further for an added treat: Theodore Elliman’s meditation on early portraits by Salomón Huerta, whose subjects have turned away from the camera’s gaze, engendering an unexpected kind of intimacy. Read more.

Monica McLaughlin

Biggie’s crown, Slick Rick’s diamond eye patch, and a remembrance of Rammellzee

With infectious enthusiasm, writer and antiques expert Monica McLaughlin digs into the gems for sale at a Sotheby’s auction of hip-hop memorabilia, sharing the backstories for bits of bling once owned by some of the biggest names in hip-hop. You don’t have to be a fan to fall willingly down this gilded rabbit hole. Read more.

Subscribe to Andrea’s newsletter, Weekly Special, or visit her on Instagram or at her website.

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