Maybe the date has long past. But somehow an object lingers. Something stays on the shelf, in the pocket of that old jacket, between the layers of dust and under the pillow. How many things do we hold on to long after they have expired? What happens after the expiration date has passed?

BEST BEFORE is an evolving project about the relationship between individual and object. Plastic bags have been placed on the doorsteps of homes throughout the New York City area, and individuals have contributed their 'expired' items, documented here as excerpts of small pasts in material form. This is the online archive of items donated to the BEST BEFORE project between August and October, 2006.

While these objects are recorded with the stories they contain, once they expire, their context, use and relationship to the owner can somehow be rendered blank again. It is from this point that we can begin to reflect again upon the very objecthood of a thing--what it is and what it isn't, its potential and its failures. This becomes a means to beg the question, to search the ambiguous boundaries between personal and public, reality and fantasy and/or object and space. We investigate ideas of how each moment of the everyday can be constructed and captured as chance possibility as much as documented reality. It is a way of finding context within the city, playing with our constructions of daily life and reinventing them as both proposals and chance encounters with the everyday.

The collection was exhibited during October 2006 as an installation and photographic archive in lower Manhattan [exhibition details here] and is now fully documented here as an online record. We hope that you will follow the activity here on the site, and if you have ideas for bringing BEST BEFORE to your neighbourhood, please let us know.

The links below are invoice questionnaires [PDF format] for donating items to the BEST BEFORE project. Although we are no longer accepting expired items, if you are interested to contribute, please contact us regarding future BEST BEFORE projects!

This is a project of Asuka Yamaguchi, Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga & Elaine W. Ho.
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If you have any questions at all or would like to know more, please drop us an e-mail.

Best Before was made possible by Swing Space, a program of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, generously supported by the September 11th Fund. Project space donated by 125 Maiden Equities LLC.

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