The Casket of magic: home and identity from salvaged objects

Susan Digby

_ objects can be mobilized to make a home in unfamiliar surroundings. p.170

_ Closely related to possession of souvenir objects are performances of place-making, specifically homemaking (Miller,2001) p.170

_ … mobile people use objects in performances that construct both home and away … p.170

_ I suggest that collections of salvaged-object souvenirs and their inscription constitute one such spatial practice of travel and that their collection, together with practices associated with them, serves to reproduce knowledges and constitute identities. p.171

_ Souvenirs are not generally objects of need but items gathered, signified or created in response to nostalgia for other and past places. (…) Through them, places and actions can be revisited. p.171

_ Susan Pearce comments that: “Objects hang before the eyes of imagination, continuously re-presenting ourselves to ourselves, and telling the stories of our lifes in ways which would be impossible otherwise”.(1992: 47). For Susan Stewart, souvenirs serve as a trace experience fulfilling “the insatiable demands of nostalgia” (1993:135) p.174

_ The word “salvage”, derives from the Latin, salver – to save, and the primary meaning is that associated with compensation for saving a ship or a cargo from the perils of the sea, or for lives and property rescued in a shipwreck. (…) In terms of souvenirs, as mentioned earlier, salvaged-object souvenirs are not officially sanctioned objects exchanged for money in a store dedicated to selling hegemonic memories of a place; rather they are salvaged encountered objects. (…) They are objects to which individual meanings are attached, often seemingly of the everyday, plucked from anonymity or destruction. Attached stories are those from previous lives as well as those newly made, such as the story of the find and acquisition”. p.175

_ Bassett Digby´s collection of salvaged-object souvenirs and the activities around it act in similar ways to the collection of quilting displays. The similarity lies in the precesses of memory recalling and reforming through telling stories linked to locations, many of which are distant in time and space. As with the quilt components, many of the meanings are not inherent in the objects; rather, meanings are invisible, attached only though stories. p.176

_ to an outside person, the contents of Bassett Digby´s tin would have appeared not as a “casket of magic” but as a tin containing the debris of living, “stuff”, without meaning or “junk”. However, I suggest that the tin (…) contains items that are constituent to Digby´s identity and provide a spatial mapping onto the landscapes of his travel. p.177

_ + – collecting as a search for revenue from a source other than his pen. p.178

_ Performances of telling enrich and rework stories associated with objects. (…) It is a double inscription of the objects. p.180

_ Stories connected to souvenir objects are not static; rather they are mobile and fluid. The interactive telling is a performative mapping during which alterations in and evolutions of the stories can be expected to occur. p.182

_ … the telling of stories associated with the objects was more important than the objects themselves … Thus objects act as containers for stories, they are “wild things” to which a variety of meanings can be attached. p.182

:: pdf file

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