The Stacks Series by Clemens Kois
Not everyone would spot the potential magic in a cluster of their children’s medicine bottles, or in utilitarian household items like batteries, lightbulbs, and binder clips. But before he began constructing and shooting teetering towers of such trifles, photographer Clemens Kois had plenty of practice: as a longtime flea market enthusiast and avid collector — of Carl Aübock designs, among many others — he had spent decades perceiving a heightened level of beauty and value in objects others might overlook. Each image in his ongoing Stacks series always begins with a few such things he’s harvested from somewhere in his New York apartment, which he builds into a delicately balanced vertical composition, like arranging the notes in a song.
We first became aware of the project after writing about the Aübock book Kois worked on last year with Brian Janusiak of Project No. 8 and Patrick Parrish of Mondo Cane; Parrish had gone on to exhibit and sell large framed prints of the Stacks in his gallery. But it first began spontaneously back in 2008, when both of Kois’s two-year-old twins had a terrible cold and cough. “I had to be up all night watching them,” he recalls. “I started to play around with all their medicine bottles, and soon I had a stack; I think I made three that night. They always came crashing down and made a lot of noise, so it was a bit counterproductive concerning the kids.”
“But from that moment on I was hooked on the idea of making these stacks out of ordinary items we all find in our apartments. The great thing is if you collect so many things like me and have three kids, there are always so many objects around to use. One thing I never use is glue — for some reason I like the idea of this fragile moment. (You have no idea how many pieces I’ve broken, which leads to an angry wife and kids.) I also like the idea that all the pieces go back to their ordinary life afterwards. Medicine goes back to the medicine box, the calculator goes back on the table, and my watch goes back on my arm. Right now I make them when ever I see things to use, which ends up being between two and ten a month. It’s a bit never-ending.” Check out a selection of recent Stacks images below, then click here if you’d like to learn more about purchasing one.