Self-storage facilities are maybe the most explicit signifiers of the change from industrial to consumer society, the society in which identities are, to a large extent, based on the consumption and possession of goods. The need to store excess objects paradoxically originates in scarcity, as homes are not big enough for accumulated properties (leisure time equipment, library …).
Self-storage facilities contain as well the tributes to the modern way of living. They are Big Boxes filled with (temporarily) stored identities. Today’s vitas are more fragmented. Lifestyles oriented towards self-realization and the globalized market economy bring along mobility requirements and increased divorce rates, which on the other hand lead to increased demand for storage.
Self-storage facilities are also used as neutral grounds; where one can outsource identities, which cause conflicts in everyday life. By renting a storage unit one can enjoy a chance to live various other ones. The motivation to outsource one`s identity can be associated with desire for independence(after separation common objects remain usable for both parties), otherness stemming from affections not compatible with the social environment one lives in or freedom for activities which are not compatible with private lives (hobbies).
By turning self-storage facilities into viewable storage areas (Schaulager) we create museums of everyday culture, that provide insights into the private collections of others and putting on display failures and (temporary) impossibilities of today’s vitas. Considering the various motives for renting storage capacities, self-storage museums mirror the heterogeneity of the social fabric.
Photo credit: Wolfgang Thaler http://www.wolfgangthaler.at/