We keep loose track of things we'd like to do for our birthday. We get the whole birth month to get as many of these ticked off as we can. Going to the opening day of a new show at HOMA featuring one friend and one friendly acquaintance, was a birthday month necessity (and more than made up for the covid-canceled Van Gogh extravaganza memorial missed).
We engaged with the new show, had a leisurely lunch, did a bit of spending in the gift shop, and finished with a wander about most of the remaining grounds, stopping at what held us.
Near the elevator-end of the connecting hall, I was stopped by the glittering eye of an ancient stone, a giant's squishy face carved into it. It is not the person pictured above but a close neighbor. I did not photograph this stone. I may, but not just now.
"I will return to my home.
I can wait.
I am a stone.
I paid just a bit of attention to the tag identifying it as from Africa? and a gift of Mr. and Mrs Somethingorother?
"Ask Mr and Mrs how they came to get me to be able to give me as a gift to the museum. Ask what was I before being forced into this world of art."
How does a face of stone speak?
How is the voice of stone heard?
Heart to heart.
Silence and imagination.
No good reason not to give a stone the courtesy of listening to a story it's telling you and taking it as if it's true.
I wandered on and looked for a story being told in the curating and as I had that engagement I began to see a story of colonialism being only implicitly told, could be completely my fabrication (but impact not intention, my dear Curator).
Soon I started thinking about an art exhibit where the object of artistic interest and expression is "provenance" itself. It is at the merger of ethics and aesthetics or a demonstration that they are just different names for the same territory.
There could be a show selecting works from the collection and as part of the showing of the work show a representation of its known historical transformations into becoming a work of 'art' and a work of art held here. This could go in so many directions. Invite different artists to engage in a provenancial interaction with museum-owned artifacts and depict in different engaging ways its history.
The museum could also demonstrate how/if engaged in the conversation about repatriation as well as anthropological theories of art.
Then I thought about other ways the museum could take an active role in this important conversation.
It could begin quite gradually, a few QRL codes scattered about, focusing on prvenance issues. What is 'ownership' and how we have imposed this concept onto people who, with good reason, deny it's utility.
The vision is for Ongoingness; Life continuing on . . . .
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and, if I do not save it, I do not save myself. —JOSÉ ORTEGA Y GASSET
Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be––this is the interrelated structure of reality.
—MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Now, more than ever . . . our place in the universe and the place of the universe in us, is proving to be one of active relationship. That is more than a scientist's credo. The separateness of our lives is a sham. Physics, mathematics, music, painting, my love for you, my work, the star-dust of my body, the spirit that impels it, my politics, clocks diurnal, time perpetual, the roll, rough, tender, swamping, liberating, breathing, moving, thinking nature, human nature and the cosmos are patterned together.
—JEANETTE WINTERSON Gut Symmetries
What you do, what you become, is not my concern. –ROBERT MCCALL