An Ode to Kate Bingaman-Burt

Eight years ago, Kate Bingaman-Burt started a project. She decided that she would draw something she purchased, every day.

Her first entry in the project: gas.

She ended the project this week. The last thing she purchased: iced coffee.

Of course she’s not done buying. Or drawing. Just drawing the buying.

It’s something she’d been doing for awhile. From 2002 to 2006, she drew everything she purchased. She called that project Obsessive Consumption. Her drawings were eventually compiled into a book under the same name.

Related to the buying, from 2004 to 2010, she drew her credit card statements each month until they were paid off.

Rob Walker wrote about that project in the New York Times Magazine in 2006, and he interviewed the first person to buy one of the drawings, a man named Rob Coudal. Bingaman-Burt charged him the minimum payment for that statement: $140. Here’s what he said about acquiring it:

“The credit-card statement is this thing that everyone in America understands, and it’s completely produced by machine. No human touches it, except for the human at the other end, who has the card — and who affects the content of that statement by the purchases they make.”

I feel like I owe a lot to Ms. Bingaman-Burt, her playfulness with her debt and spending. I salute her! Thank you, Kate!

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