A Look In My Drawers

Photographer Barry Seidman’s ‘My Drawers’ Series Tells a Biographical Life Story

By Robin Jay

Barry Seidman

“A man’s ‘self’ is the sum total of all that he can call his,” said Philosopher/Psychologist William James in 1890 in The Principles of Psychology. If that’s so, then nationally renowned photographer Barry Seidman’s latest still-life series ‘My Drawers’ may serve as his tell-all autobiography or intimate self-portrait.

As you’ll see in this issue of International Opulence, the intriguing pictorial series includes high-def shots of what lies inside the personal drawers in Seidman’s home – including his kitchen, rolltop desk, and antiques collection.

“I never started this series as a project for the world,” said Seidman, who grew up in the world of advertising photography in New York before launching into a career in fine art still-life photography. “It was more of a personal exploration. These are things I look at almost every day, but, suddenly I realized I was seeing them with ‘New Eyes.’  This work became such a photo-biography; it was almost uncomfortable to show.”

The Wordless Story 
When I received Barry’s invitation to attend opening night of his exhibit at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, I immediately wondered: Is there an intended double entendre in the series name – ‘My Drawers’?

“Of course. Being a marketing guy, I can’t help myself,” Seidman answered without hesitation. “My photography series almost always have a ‘hook.’”

Moments of Self-Reflection
As Seidman prepared his drawers for the photo shoot, he learned quite a bit about himself and enjoyed the nostalgic trip down memory lane.

“I learned I save too much stuff! Really. I don’t keep a diary, I keep drawers, and this work proves it,” Seidman said with a hint of tongue-and-cheek jest. It’s a shame the TV show Seinfeld isn’t still in production – Barry Seidman’s ‘My Drawers’ exhibit could have made an Emmy-winning episode topic! It’s like the “I Spy” search and find children’s book series – but for adults.

Seidman’s Kitchen Drawer 
“A lot of these things brought back memories for me, but I hope they will trigger some memories for others, as well. The Kitchen Drawer shows me the Boy Scout knife I got by saving Bazooka Bubble Gum wrappers; my old skate key, my high school locker padlock and my U.S. Navy ID and dog tags remind me of experiences and friends from long ago.”

The Antique Register 
“The Cash Register, the Rolltop Desk along with my jukebox, slot machine and pinball machine form part of my collection of vintage items that I just can’t part with, just like I can’t part with the collections in my drawers.

“The Cash Register contains coins from around the world (some currencies no longer existent), casino chips from around the world (I used to think I was James Bond), a collection of NYC subway tokens (before the days of Metro cards) and the occasional place to store change.

My Desk 
“In Rolltop Desk, which I share with my wife Mary Ann, I placed a matchbook from the old Copacabana in New York.  It was probably the first nightclub I went to. At the opening of ‘My Drawers,’ a woman approached me to say she was a dancer at the Copacabana. It was very satisfying for my work to help with her recollection.

“My bathroom drawer holds an incredibly old hairbrush.  I haven’t used it in years, but I just can’t toss it. My night table drawer contains my sleep aids – the less said about them, the better.”

To see Seidman’s bathroom drawer and night table drawer, log on to www.InternationalOpulence.com. And to view his entire collection of ‘My Drawers,’ go to www.barryseidman.com.

A Look In My Drawers