Monday, September 12, 2005

LOST AND FOUND #1

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'The souvenir moves history into private time' says Susan Stewart in her book On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection.

I think a lot about all the little objects that make up our life. You see, that is what I am working with, what my PhD is about, at least in an abstract sense. And seeing how much time I spend looking at the small and seemingly insignificant, at detail, at the ordinary, it just follows that I had to start thinking about all those things we collect, meaningless in themselves yet vessels for memory, for a multitude of meaning inaccessible to anyone not in on the secret.

Looking at the website with the postcard secrets this morning, I have been wondering about all the disparate object in my life, the things that clutter my desk, grace my walls, that sleep in boxes and on shelves, full of secret meanings. We all collect things - photographs, souvenirs, little snippets of paper, objects torn out of their context.

How often do I find myself in an antique store, in a charity shop, at a car boot sale, looking, not at the value of things, but at the objects people have rejected, and the lives they have led. Objects carry meanings that over time become forgotten, misplaced, or altered, and looking at them, I can't help the curiosity about all that is hidden and inaccessible to me.

Objects are like the closed door in the castle you visit at the weekend - locked and marked private, and so much more interesting than the representative rooms with their expensive furniture and costly paintings. Endlessly fascinating, objects, like locked doors, lure us with their secrets, with the promise of something 'real' just behind the closed door, behind the facade of what we are allowed to see.

This is the start of a project that I am calling LOST AND FOUND. This will not happen on a particular day, but every week I will post about something found; some object, be it a photograph, a drawing, a random object, a poem - something apparently accidental. I am hoping that it will help me remember and treasure the memories locked up in those objects, the secret of their personal meaning.

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