Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Museum of Innocence

 Donna Watson Assemblage:  Antique Shinto Box, bird nest, bird eggs, sumi brush, Asian coin, Asian game pieces, joss sticks, reproduction of a crow skull

Orhan Pamuk, Turkish writer and winner of the Nobel prize for literature published his novel titled MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE in 2008.  He also spent years, and all his Nobel prize money roving and searching Istanbul's junk shops and market stalls looking for bits and pieces with which to furnish the novel he was writing.



In the novel, Kemal, a prosperous man has a love affair with a lower class shop girl and cousin, Fusun.  After ending the affair, Kemal becomes obsessed, over a period of 2,864 days, of obsessively collecting objects, like cigarette stubs that Fusun had smoked.
Pamuk, the author, also began to collect objects to assemble and correspond to the families and impassioned lover's stories in the book. 



Pamuk spent many years creating a museum to house the thousands of objects he collected for the novel.  The museum is housed in a wine-red four storey building constructed in 1897, in Istanbul, Turkey.



The museum consists of 83 cabinets, each representing a chapter of the book.  The novel's wealthy protagonist, in love with his cousin, soothes his despair by collecting everything that she has touched, and he decides that all these things must be displayed in a museum.

"The Museum of Innocence - just like the novel - is about the line between fiction and reality." -Orhan Pamuk



The first display greeting the visitor is the cigarette wall with 4,213 cigarette stubs smoked by Fusun.
The exhibit is accompanied by a film reel, shot by Pamuk himself, showing a woman's hand movements as she smokes and taps a cigarette.  Beneath each stub is a handwritten note about the day in which the stub was stolen.



"I think that if museums, like novels, were to focus more on private and personal stories, they would be better able to bring out our collective humanity."  Orhan Pamuk



"Most of us, faced with a traumatic loss of life or love, find consolation in attaching ourselves to objects."  Orhan Pamuk



Before writing his novel, Pamuk began to buy a large number of objects from shops at the flea markets in Istanbul.  Instead of writing about the objects and then looking for them, he did the opposite.  He went shopping first, and wrote his book based on all the things acquired.



When Pamuk was younger, he dreamed of becoming a painter and devoted himself to art.  As he became a writer, the visual artist in him became dormant.  "The artist lying dormant in the depths of my soul has been looking for an opportunity to come back to life." --Orhan Pamuk
The novel and the museum are concerned with entirely different sides of the same story.  This is why visitors to the museum do not need to have read the book to appreciate the displays in the museum.



A ticket to the museum is printed in each copy of the book.  When visitors arrive at the museum with their books, they can show the ticket page and have it stamped.

"Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your soul according to the fashion.  Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly."  Franz Kafka   


























28 comments:

over the rainbow said...

What a story.....makes me want to buy the book AND visit the museum. Turkey has been showing up a lot on my radar lately.......

Valerianna said...

Fascinating! And I rather LOVE the red house! I rented a similar house as a studio in the Turkish building style when I lived in Greece, though, unfortunately, not red!

(OK, this robot word/number thing on blogger is beginning to drive me CRAZY, the numbers are so blurry, there is NO WAY to read them. I'm on try FIVE!
Anyone else have this issue??)

Anna Mavromatis said...

I love Orhan Pamuk, (his) "Istanbul", "The museum of Innocence", and the way you presented it, here at your post.
Thank you for reminding me his unique narrative and sensibility in everything he collects, remembers, expresses in his writings.

ArtPropelled said...

How intriguing! The red house is perfect for the museum. I've been dying to go to Turkey. The museum is on my list.

Sweetpea said...

Completely, utterly AMAZING...!
Each of us has been obsessed at some time in our lives but doesn't it make one wonder to look at it so closely, so "intensely"?
Whew.
This is some post, Donna ;>]

Leslie Avon Miller said...

I had never heard of this. Intriguing!
We do attach feelings and emotions to things, especially when we have had a loss.

Ms. said...

Pamuk the obsessive artist (what artist is not) and the title so indicative of an attitude. My own home is like this, not on such a scale, but like this. I suspect many of our homes and studios are. I make things of the things I collect, as I know others do too. Poets collect rhyme and meter, writers collect words. Our memories are collections too. I love that he advocates the personal museum...since so many of us already have one, or many of our own. Now, how to turn all this obsession into cash to pay the rent and medical bills...hmmmmmmmm.

ZenDotStudio said...

what a lovely juicy idea! I would love this museum. Objects with stories. Sometimes I find museums too dry and scientific but this one (even though it is entirely fictional or perhaps because) sounds like so much fun.

Thanks so much for this hit of creativity, showing us such a deeply original approach to stimulate our own creative impulses.

I love your assemblage. I'm sure it has a wonderful story to tell.

yvette said...

well worth reading!

you made a wonderfull installation Donna!

love

Olga said...

Your piece strikes me as one for contemplation and enriching speculative mental wanderings - one with no need for explanations. Lovely It is interesting how often 'Western' artists turn to Japanese symbolism to evoke stillness and quiet mental meanderings.

Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence is such a perfect piece: a conceptual art installation which instead of a jargon-filled explanatory note has a wondrous novel. Yet more evidence for the rich depth of Pamuk's imagination and the breadth of his creative capapbilities.

lyle baxter said...

what a wonderful tale! well worth the wait! it would be fascinating to hear what we all who love your blog and collect mementos have in our collections!thank you for stirring up the thinking pot!

Chris said...

love your work and will definitely read the book-great post

Lynn said...

Wow! This is just fascinating.
Your piece at the top is gorgeous.

Lynn said...

ps to Valerianna - yes, I've had that happen before, though not here. I finally managed to get it just when I'd convinced myself that either I needed stronger reading glasses, or I was going insane...

susan christensen said...

Donna, I love this post - the book is going on my to-read list. Your assemblage is elegant. -sus

Jann Gougeon said...

Beautiful asssemblage (I so appreciate it when artists list all the elements that have been put into the work.) What a unique and fascinating story.

Carole said...

Turkey is on my "places I want to visit before I kick the bucket list" with this museum now being at the top of the list. What a find! Thank you!
Love your assemblage. It reminds me of a totem pole. The story of a family's life. Fascinating.

Tammie Lee said...

thank you so much for sharing this amazing story. so interesting and full of passion and more.
your art is fabulous too Donna!

mansuetude said...

Fascinating, and kinda creepy in a way-- though he made a lovely world in both language and in objects of the idea.

Peace across to you.

Noela Mills said...

Love your shrine, Donna, and all the info about Pamuk. What an interesting, obsessive story/person - worth a trip to Turkey!!
...and I love the Frank Kafka quote - I have it on my fridge - probably taken from an earlier post of yours. N XX

Jo Reimer said...

How interesting! Collectors intrigue me. I try to collect but after I have 2 or 3 of a kind I can't continue... unless it's art supplies or handmade jewelry. Or beautiful fabric.

annell said...

What a beautiful post!! I love it.

Galeria Rocco said...

Beautiful post Donna. We need eccentric people in the world to fascinate us and keep us awake to our inner currents. Pamuk is a brilliant author!

mark ponting said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
india flint said...

oh so refreshingly against the tide of obsessional decluttering

Seth said...

This is such a fascinating story. I feel like I could get lost for days in that museum, obsessing over the obsessive collections.

Gwen Buchanan said...

So very interesting... and I believe in the quote by Kafka.

Kathy Johnson said...

I think anyone who collects things would find this writer and museum fascinating. (although obsessive!)
The Kafka quote reminds me of a sign I saw recently: "Be yourself - everyone else is taken"