Life-Changing Magic


Tidying expert Marie Kondo, and her KonMari method of organising the home, have become a phenomenon. Kondo has created a method in which the home and personal possessions are viewed as having agency and decisions on whether to keep or discard items are based on intuition. This sense of intuition is encapsulated in whether or not an item ‘sparks joy’- a recurring theme throughout her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.

If, when we pick up an item or run our hands over it, we feel a sense of joy- we should keep the item. Any possessions which don’t produce joy in us should be discarded. The end goal is to be surrounded only by the things we love- as a cluttered environment full of things we don’t use or enjoy can feel like a burden, creating stress and anxiety. According to Kondo a beautiful and peaceful environment reduces stress and provides the conditions for other areas of our life to begin falling into place.

For me, this concept pertains to the notion of the erotic as power as laid out by Audre Lorde, a key focus of which resides in the raising of our standards to the point where we begin refusing to settle for unsatisfying conditions of life, and pleasure begins to colour our daily world.

For the skill sharing workshop with the ‘Age of New Babylon’ project, and for the MAFA group show Obsessions, I explored the KonMari method of folding, which I have adopted in my daily life to the point where it has become second nature; almost a reflex. The video work I displayed, Life-Changing Magic, comprises found footage of a YouTube tutorial from Marie Kondo’s channel in which she explains how to fold a t-shirt, a camisole and a pair of socks in a manner in which they can stand up on their own in a drawer and be displayed in an aesthetically pleasing and functional manner. I displayed the video on a small television in keeping with the domestic content of the work. The neutral colour palette and lack of background music create a simple and relaxed scene, whilst a soothing English voiceover, dubbed over Kondo’s speech, tells us the process should in part be about communicating “your affection and gratitude” for the continuous support of the item of clothing. Kondo presents as a cheerful and youthful Japanese woman in a floral dress and simple blazer, which could be read as giving her the air of a housewife in a traditional ‘good home’ how-to video. However Kondo’s apparent joy that stems from her life’s work is a world away from the anxiety associated with the typical homemaker’s mission to ‘Keep up with the Joneses’, and instead she focuses her sights on the pursuit of personal fulfillment.