Saturday, April 21, 2007

There are essentially two types of objects, functional and decorative. The boundary between these two types is obscure and sometimes ironic. As an example I am reminded of a passage in Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo by Eric Hansen. During Hansen's incredible journey across Borneo and back he was invited into the home of a native where he found brightly colored Tupperware hanging on the walls similar to the way a modern American would display artifacts from another culture. Hansen notes that an American would laugh to see Tupperware displayed with such reverence, but an American, decorating his home with 3rd world artifacts in an effort to display his sophistication may may have journeyed no further than the local Pier One Import store. For the native of Borneo, the Tupperware reflected the actual sophistication of a difficult and hazardous journey on foot across centuries to a modern era and then back.
The interesting thing is that for the Borneo native, Tupperware was art. Can we get to a point of cultural renewal in which the common objects of our daily lives will be art? I believe it will have to start with our hands.

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