I created my own kunstkammer

by The Lingernots

Before I lived in a city, and was a child of the hills and fields and rolling valleys, where my neighbor’s every conversations seemed to take place in my very room, I would make tree forts and tee pees and any kind of fort, and fill them with my blankets, cat puppet, books and things.. home within a home, another place all to myself that didn’t belong anywhere. Later I moved to the city where there is not so much space and people’s bodies are so close that the forts become themselves. I became fascinated with the ambulant individuals that looked straight ahead and walked to the beat of their own drum. I’m very curious about their lives, their homes, their past. What is their cabinet of curiosities?

Don’t you love, in breakfast at Tiffany’s, when you go into Holly’s artfully bare apartment, how bizarre everything seems? Bizarre things for a bizarre woman, but not something that you would imagine unless you walked in. Or Diana Vreeland’s home (which I’ve already talked about a million times here) which took her years of living to complete (is a home EVER complete?)

Vreeland’s home

But what of the people that make their world a part of everyone’s? What of visual artists and film makers? I was watching Jan Svankmajer’s adaptation of Alice, a somewhat terrifying adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s tale, but absolutely captivating.

Alice and pesky creatures

A horse in Jan Svankmajer’s Alice

Isn’t it fascinating how some can create such a visual world out of their lives, while others can’t (or won’t)?  The way that some go about their whole lives collecting these objects to build these cocoons around them, sometimes as a tribute to a past love, sometimes just a huge collection of relics. (See, also, Herb and Dorothy)

“Heroic heads of Svankmajer and his late wife, the artist Eva Svankmajerova, tower on the balcony outside. In the bedroom, the four-poster bed is decorated with a head made of sea shells. On the walls are prints by Piranesi and Callot, and a 19th-century painting of a hillside that turns out to be a human face when you look at it in the right way.

Svankmajer explains that he is creating his own “kunstkammer”, or cabinet of curiosities, in a large building outside the city. “I am a collector,” he says, “and the environment I live in reflects this. I am convinced that people who collect something do it because they fear the world and other people. With their collections, they create an alternative world that they are able to control.”  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/dec/05/jan-svankmajer-puppets-politics

What about the other side of the spectrum, those who keep their surroundings so bare, that the very emptiness seems to form this barrier between them and the world? A sort of white washed vacuum where sound and stray objects stay away? When I look at ultra modern homes/ projects like the ones that Aires Matheus builds, the strictness of the lines, its void, is just as loud (not tacky, but commanding) as the lack of space in a curio cabinet.

Aires Matheus home

I’ve been thinking about this, the habit of collecting mementos, because as I start to pack to move again, I find myself being bemused by a myriad of trinkets that all remind me of a day, of place, an experience… I also find myself beyond irritated at how much space this all seems to take up. I wish I could snap my fingers and shrink everything down to nothingness, and leave with one beautiful suitcase, wearing one beautiful trench and a pair of heels, because who needs more than that? (I do apparently..)

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