All I Own, by Sannah Kvist

 “All I Own” is an art project by photographer Sannah Kvist, showing portraits of people with all of the physical possessions they really own in life.

The photos only show possessions that the people actually own outright. Not included are things like houses or cars (things that are really owned by the bank, via loans).

What is somewhat shocking about the series is the intimate look at how little many of us really own outright. My first reaction was along the lines of mild concern for the individuals pictured, immediately followed by the thought of what my own display would look like.

But then, as my reaction wore off, I began to wander through a different field of thoughts; about how little “stuff” it takes to have a happy life… about the value of memories, and experiences, and education, and friends and communities.

I also started thinking about how “stuff” tends to own you in the end… and how the present financial crisis has winnowed many folks’s collections of stuff.


The picture above is a perfect representation of Bruce’s state of possessions, before I came into his life and brought my friends Ikea and Craigslist.  He moved into his place with 20 boxes of books and vinyl records, some clothes, and a typewriter. He is a minimalist by nature.

I, on the other hand, tend to be a “nester.” I love collecting memorabilia and souvenirs. I attach sentiment to items, and have a hard time getting rid of things my mom and grandma give me. I also live under the constant threat of letting my clothes bury my entire bedroom.

Based on the pictures here, I am thinking how there is a certain amount of freedom in being free from the burden of “things” you don’t need to be happy.  There is balance to be had for sure, and Sannah Kvist’s  project sure call us to consider it.



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