When the poet Emily Dickinson died in 1886, she left behind a Collection of 40 hand bound manuscripts of poems. The books were disassembled and regrouped for publication as ‘Fascicules’ under the headings ‘Life, Love, Nature and Eternity’.
It is now thought that this reordering of Dickinson’s manuscripts, without reference to her personal intentions may have altered the original meaning inherent in her work.
The ‘Collection’ can be used in a specific and controlled way to explore issues of identity, and the alteration and subversion of meaning, as Baudrillard said: ….eclectic gathering forms our Post Modernist environment.The taking of images and objects out of context will always change their original meaning and identity. When we take cultural artefacts and natural forms away from their original environment, and place them within the labelled and catalogued environs of the museum or gallery, though their substance remains the same, their meaning is altered.
The found object taken from its environment, collected by the artist, ceases to exist as itself- the nature and meaning of the object are altered, simply because it is now the possession of the artist and ultimately the viewer.
The telling and retelling of an event will not necessarily preserve the truth…the rediscovery of the event…the constant repetition of the original…the constant rediscovery of the truth, or untruth, reality or unreality….
Through repeated reproduction and remaking of an object or image its original identity and meaning will be subverted and ultimately lost
True reality is unique for each of us, individual and personal, shaped and reshaped by our own interpretation of the truth.
My art is a collection of borrowings.
Objects and images in my collection are drawn and redrawn, made and remade, over and over.
Helen A. Taylor MA
Much (though not all), of the inspiration for the images in this post comes from descriptions of the collections made by 18th century collectors.
I have always had a fascination with museums, collecting and collections, in particular with Cabinets of Curiosity or ‘Wunderkammer’ which were created by collectors at this time, and which have formed the basis of many of our most well known museum collections.
The 18th century was truly the ‘Age of Enlightenment’, with many new discoveries made in science and in the natural world, through the voyages of great explorers and collectors such as James Cook, Joseph Banks and John Tradescant.
However, despite their new found knowledge and understanding people in this time retained their sense of wonder and a belief in the marvellous, and fantastical, which I think we have lost in our modern world of absolutes with its strict divisions between the real and imagined, and between science and the arts.