The Week — Nov. 15: A home for every object

Kayla Smith cares deeply about abandoned objects, while gamers make money for charity by playing video games

Kayla Smith believes no object should be abandoned, and created her Object Orphanage to help find homes.

A home for every object

Kayla Smith cares deeply about abandoned objects. Half of all the furnishings in her current apartment were picked up on the side of the road.

But it’s not about saving money, or about the fact that the UVic visual arts major has been a self-described scavenger since her second year in university — she just believes that everything can be repurposed, and that nothing deserves to be abandoned.

Thus, Smith, 21, has created The Object Orphanage, an interactive community art project running from Nov. 10 to Dec. 1 that aims to reunite abandoned objects with new owners, all for free.

“I’ve been working a lot with finding the beauty in what we consider old and unwanted — making the ‘profane’ venerated,” says the fourth-year student, originally from Salmon Arm. “People are so quick to throw something out because it’s easier to get another $20 Ikea desk for your next house then it is to spend the time and money moving it, but, I think these things are still useful to someone.”

The orphanage, located at UVic’s sculpture yard behind the Visual Arts Building off Ring Road, will be open four days a week for anyone from the community to come and browse Smith’s found items, and take anything they want (even the desk she sits at) with only one condition: they have to sign an adoption form. While it’s not legally binding, the form will help Smith document the project as her final thesis before graduating, and perhaps turn it into something bigger — namely, examining how people treat abandoned objects.

“To me, this project is really a metaphor. I have a friend who is chronically depressed, and he has certainly experienced abandonment with all the stigmas he deals with. You could say society sees him as someone who is ‘broken’,” says Smith. “But he’s still a great guy, he works hard and he does the best he can.”

While Smith acknowledges that some people won’t find value in a spray-painted chair or broken speaker, she also believes everything still has a use. And Smith says she’s found some amazing abandoned objects in her own searches. One, a book titled The Complete Patter, teaches the reader how to speak with a Glasgow accent, and came complete with a card addressed “Merry Xmas, Donna.”

“It’s just such a random thing to find, and there is beauty in the story these things hold,” Smith says. “So often, I’ll see someone leave a TV outside for free, and the next day it will be spray-painted and the next day someone will smash it … It’s interesting to look at the abuse our society gives to abandoned objects, abandoned and homeless people, too, and really think about why that is.”

Smith invites others to bring any found items they no longer want to the orphanage, and says she will continue collecting donations (of the object variety) until Dec. 1 — no money will be exchanged, as she hopes the project will make the objects themselves the commodity; art for art’s sake. “The community coming together to house these objects is the same community we need to come together to find solutions for our other abandoned members of society,” Smith says. “If anything, this project has made me see the value of volunteering. We all have a use.”

The Object Orphanage will be open Tuesdays 9am-1pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 1-5pm and Saturdays, 9am-1pm until Dec. 1. For more info, email ObjectOrphanage@gmail.com.

Hope for video gamers

Nothing beats droning out to a mindless video game — especially when you can raise thousands of dollars for children by doing so.

Cue Desert Bus for Hope, the first internet fundraiser, that has raised over $800,000 for the charity Child’s Play over the last five years. And on Fri., Nov. 16, the group of gamers aims to start it all over again.

By playing what’s been labeled “the world’s most boring video game” 24/7 (for as long as the donations keep coming in), the group raises more than their fair share for kids. Watching people play might not sound like the most exciting way to spend time, but the Desert Bus for Hope livestream, which started in Victoria in 2007, is now watched by people in 131 countries. In 2011, the website had more than 650,000 pageviews and 150,000 unique visitors over the six days of the fundraiser. To join the fun or donate, visit desertbus.org. M

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