cose sensibilmente sovrasensibili1, lost objects, objects soaked with memory, things-pretexts, stratified objects, seductive things, political objects, objects-monuments, cose dell’altro mondo, day-to-day objects, artifacts, sensible objects, upsetting things, evergreen objects, things-telling-stories, objects-subject, the intimacy of things, objects dying out, non è cosa, subjugated objects, una cosa da niente, objects-witnesses, objects’ biography, ceci n’est pas une pipe2, private objects, masterpieces, cosa fatta capo ha, musealized objects, museums without objects.
The thing is not the object, the indeterminate obstacle I face, which I have to tear down or bypass, but a knot of relations where I feel myself implicated, of which I don’t want to have any exclusive control.3
Le meilleur parti à prendre est donc de considérer toutes choses comme inconnues, et de se promener ou de s’étendre sous bois ou sur l’herbe, et de reprendre tout du début.4
Beau comme la rétractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces ; ou encore, comme l’incertitude des mouvements musculaires dans les plaies des parties molles de la région cervicale postérieure; […] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d’une machine à coudre et d’un parapluie!5
For all the things, it is a matter of facing the problem of representing the unimaginable, the divine, or creating an image of something that does not have it – the soul, the breath, the spirit, the power, the intangible. The images that we made of them, are to be copies of copies of an original that escapes us. The use of objects, fetishes, that for some purposes and in certain moments, are invested by a power of representation. This rich and colourful world, where the immanence is representation, seems to be populated by presences.6
This amorous relationship with things has at its base a layer of melancholy.7
Ethnography – it is quite tiresome to have to keep repeating this – is interested in the beautiful and the ugly, in the European sense of these absurd words. It has, however, a tendency to be suspicious of the beautiful, which is rather often a rare – that is monstrous – occurrence in a civilization. Ethnography is suspicious too of itself – for it is a white science, i.e., stained with prejudices – and it will not refuse aesthetic value to an object because it is up-to-date or mass-produced.8
The best stories are told by things, dying things.9
You like my photographs just because they remind you of the Istanbul when you were a child. No, I answered to the great photographer, I like them because they are beautiful. But beauty and memories are really two different things? Do not we judge a thing beautiful just because it is familiar and somehow it resembles our memories? Beauty is the eye that discover in our world what the mind already knew.10
Because unwinding the fetish is not yet given on the horizon of human possibility.11
Here are plates with no appetite.
And wedding rings, but the requited love
has been gone now for some three hundred years.
Here’s a fan–where is the maiden’s blush?
Here are swords–where is the ire?
Nor will the lute sound at the twilight hour.
Since eternity was out of stock,
ten thousand aging things have been amassed instead.
The moss-grown guard in golden slumber
props his mustache on Exhibit Number…
Eight. Metals, clay and feathers celebrate
their silent triumphs over dates.
Only some Egyptian flapper’s silly hairpin giggles.
The crown has outlasted the head.
The hand has lost out to the glove.
The right shoe has defeated the foot.
As for me, I am still alive, you see.
The battle with my dress still rages on.
It struggles, foolish thing, so stubbornly!
Determined to keep living when I’m gone!12
_ _ _ _ _
1 Karl Marx, Il Capitale.
2 Renee Magritte.
3 Remo Bodei, La vita delle cose.
4 Francis Ponge, Il partito preso delle cose.
5 Lautreamont, Canti di Maldoror.
6 La Cecla, Vitone, Non è cosa. Vita affettiva degli oggetti.
7 Calvino, “La redenzione degli oggetti”, in Collezione di sabbia.
8 Marcel Griaule, 1939.
9 Michael Taussig, Cocaina. Per un’antropologia della polvere bianca.
10 Orhan Pamuk, L’innocenza degli oggetti.
11 Michael Taussig, Cocaina. Per un’antropologia della polvere bianca.
12 Wislawa Szymborska, Museo, 1962.