February 20, 2012

Cabinets of Curiosity

I've been unpacking personal treasures, items hidden away in storage. They recently have hit the light of day after several years of being stored due to changes in my life. Why the sudden reveal? My friend Mary was doing some redecorating. I always coveted two of her display cabinets partly because I loved the items she stored in them, but also because I longed to have an opportunity to store my treasures like she did... and like my mother and grandmother. I sensed the day would come that I'd have these cabinets and sure enough they arrived... empty... but hungry to be filled with someone else's history.

So, like a modern-day archeologist, I dug around in my boxes, unwrapping objects one by one, brushing away dust and revealing my past. Some items from travel, some just inspiration, some being examples of nature preserved, others being gifts from friends and some being relics belonging to relatives long past. I was finally able to have my own cabinet of curiosities. More accurately, two of them.

What you may not know is that the term 'cabinet' originally meant an entire room. So the curio cabinets we know of originated from something much larger.

From Wikipedia: "A cabinet of curiosities was an encyclopedic collection in Renaissance Europe of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. They were also known by various names such as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer ('art-room') or Wunderkammer ('wonder-room'). Modern terminology would categorize the objects included as belonging to natural history (sometimes faked), geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art (including cabinet paintings) and antiquities. 'The Kunstkammer was regarded as a microcosm or theater of the world, and a memory theater. The Kunstkammer conveyed symbolically the patron's control of the world through its indoor, microscopic reproduction.' Of Charles I of England's collection, Peter Thomas has succinctly stated, 'The Kunstkabinett itself was a form of propaganda'..."

So without further ado, welcome to my visual theatre... my cabinets of curiosity...