Karsten Bott

Artists Who Collect
Karsten Bott, One of Each [detail], 1993, Installation at the Offenes Kulturhaus, Linz, Austria, 1993, 10 x 30 m. 

Karsten Bott has been collecting artifacts in a private collection, which he calls “Archive of Contemporary History.” His installations are based on selections from this archive as well as things he acquires on the actual location. Bott loves collecting, storing, exhibiting and classifying scientifically. While preparing to exhibit objects, his determination of their placement with companion pieces can be tricky. Bott creates huge computer databases with categorical headings such as: Occupations, Death, Festival/Customs and Household Pets. A knife could end up in the Death or in the Kitchen category. Bott spends great time imputing data on each object with links and cross-references. Even though Bott assigns storage and placement categories, he exhibits his items without labels so that the viewer may freely associate with the object. He tries to create a link with peoples’ personal histories through his collection.



I put a structure on the collection of my archive that defines things other than alphabetically. I am humanizing these things. It's like a giant polka.

Karsten Bott, quoted from the Cincinnati Enquirer.


  • Classification systems
  • Archive

Aesthetic Response Questions:

  1. What might you feel standing on this walkway and viewing the warehouse floor?
  2. Where do you think this room might exist in reality if it were not a piece of artwork?
  3. What kind of personality traits would one have to have organized all of these objects?
  4. Interpret the piece. What is being communicated?
  5. What are the implications of this piece on a global scale?