Give Me Back My Things!
White muslin curtains, Marlene Dietrich eyelashes, sacred shop windows, happy 50s, the final shot of a movie followed by “the end” or “fin’.
Soviet cupboard of the Second World War period is transformed into a German bar stand in a famous movie based on the character Max Otto von Stirlitz out of Yulian Semyonov's novel Seventeen Instants of Spring. The world of Russian classic literature, passages of life lived through the beach souvenirs, holiday flings, Great October and Great Patriotic War Victory (WW2) annual celebration gifts.
All this has disappeared with the past - only a blur left in a world of dreams, or death, where all the dead things wish to be alive - they sort themselves out in a line, stacked up, laid out in different shapes, desperately trying to remind us of a past life, calling out, sending signs.
Similar to Arcimboldo’s librarian, the one who is about to dissolve in the dust of his books, as Smut’s card house from “Drowning by Numbers“. In a game of Dawn Card Castle 52 playing cards are stacked at into a castle in a draught free space. The player can determine the dreams of the next night if he wakes before the castle collapses. Those players who wish to dream of romance build their castles for the 7 of hearts.
Those wishing to dream about love start building from the 7 of hearts.
Old things in an old home, in an old life. Fragility of porcelain figurines, glass, and last season's dry leaves. Fragility of the restored constructions and fragility of the memories. The overbearing power of misery and envy of those who have managed to live through all this and forget. Fragility of the protection from all evil in an innocent doll house. Fragility of it’s invisible hostess.
Memories vanish as soon as things are gone, same as the wiped off dust. But things last, thus recalling all that they once contained, sustained, witnessed and now almost forgotten.
Oh yes, it is all frozen now, as in the mysterious rosebud of Charles Foster Kane, as in Kaspar Hauser’s impervious mind. But inside the doll houses little plastic creatures keep playing their dangerous and serious games. Barbie's world overrules reality; everything is essentially in it, all for real - much more importantly than it tends to be in actual life.
Real sorrow and joy, ecstasy and death, love and hate, anguish and thrill – all are represented in those stupid little trinkets. Live sensible emotions, vibrating genuine feelings in the still life. Things are washed, mended and sealed into eternity - eternity deeply attached to objects, material, none existing other than in reminiscences invoked by things.
There is an inner mystery of the terminated past which is now being painstakingly restored. This is a trace, a small part of an island that managed to survive in the midst of a world lost in an abyss. There is a girl; she just sits on it, distributing her dolls among the shop windows, fitting them into their houses as if nothing ever happened. Frozen memories - once you drive, sail or fly away from those – you do it for good. This is the horror of Jules Supervielle underwater world as well as the whole empire of feelings and emotions hopelessly blocked within my mind. This is a grueling remembrance of how it used to be, high pitched sensation of the past being present here and now.
"Je ne peux pas me voir, mais je le sens comme si je le faisais maintenant …", - Nathalie Sarraute writes in her novel “Childhood” Nein, das tust du nicht. Non, tu ne feras pas ça. Ces paroles viennent d'une forme que le temps a presque effacé il ne reste qu'une presence celle d'une jeune femme assise au fond d'un fauteuil dans le salon d'un hotel ou mon père passait seul avec moi ses vacances, en Suisse, à Interlaken ou à Beatenberg, je devais avoir cinq ou six ans. Et la jeune femme était chargé de s'occuper de moi et de m'apprendre l'allemand. Je la distingue mal mais je vois distinctement la corbeille a ouvrage posée sur ses genoux et sur le dessus une paire de grands ciseau d'acier.
No, you are not going to do this. These words are delivered in the shape and form almost erased by time, there’s only the presence left, presence of a young woman, sitting in an armchair in a hotel lobby where my father alone used to spend holidays with me, in Switzerland, Interlaken or Beatenberg, I was about 5 or 6 at that time. A young lady was supposed to look after me and teach me German. I remember her very poorly, but I can quite clearly picture a basket with needlework on her knees, as well as the big steel scissors.
The world seen without people is on those photographs. This is a genuine world of objects – not people. Those are no longer our things or things for us – those are things on their own. Things have placed themselves into showcases, trying to get abstracted from the personalities they used to be surrounded by, showing memories per se, all by themselves. An inevitable byproduct of being, with it’s exhausting ability to question “the being in general”, miserable. Dasein, built on the almighty of the mind, - here turns out to be the power of things squashing a man.
All those things are recognizable and can be found in every home. Take for instance this boy with the dog - I’ve broken it’s hand off - Mom didn’t allow me to take it off the television set, but nevertheless I did, and of course it fell down. I was gathering those leaves when we took a walk in Alexandrovskiy Park and he told me he loved me and left right after that. It was the time when "Il a suffi d'un geste, d'un mot caressant de maman".
Dimitri Ozerkov The State Hermitage Museum