Cabinets de Curiosités/ Curiosity cabinets in France

Hier, direction une nouvelle expo locale de cabinets de curiosités. Curieux nous l’étions, si j’ose m’exprimer ainsi. Le concept ne nous était pas inconnu mais, jamais, nous n’avions vu “en vrai” de quoi il s’agissait. 

Yesterday, we decided to go and have a look at a new local exhibit on curiosity cabinets. Never had we seen what they were like despite the fact that we knew the words from a long time ago. Shall we dare to say that curiosity was our main motive. What on earth did they look like? 

Quel bazar! Une vraie caverne d’Ali Baba.  Monde minéral, floral, animaux existant ou imaginaires souvent transfigurés… horloges animées et que sais-je encore!! Ah, si, un oeuf d’autruche enchâssé comme une relique dans du verre de Murano.

Chimères (tête de licorne avec une défense de narval), sculptures sur bois, fer forgé, termitières, monstres marins séchés, objets ethnographiques ( instruments de musique), Cloches pour vache dans les alpages,  photo-montages pour préparer une riposte collective contre l’omniprésence des algorithmes qui annonce l’ère du totalitarisme identification globalisant” … et tellement d’autres objets ( y compris une impression jet d’encre représentant Amazon comme une gigantesque décharge). Cette expo donne le tournis.

A rag- and- bone shop like exhibit! A real cave of Ali Baba. Mineral, floral, creative art worlds, existing or imaginary animals often transfigured … animated clocks and god knows what! Chimeras (unicorn’s head with a narwhal’s defense), wood carvings, wrought iron, termite mounds, dried sea monsters, ethnographic objects (musical instruments), Cow bells sounding differently in alpine pastures, 60 photo-montages by Jean-Jacques Lebel to prepare a collective response against the ‘omnipresence of algorithms that heralds the era of globalizing identification totalitarianism’ … and so many other objects (including an inkjet print depicting Amazon as a huge dump). A real head turner! 

Dans tout ce méli-mélo, une collection étonnante, celle de Jacques Attali. Sa collection de sabliers est surprenante.

Jacques Attali’s collection of hour glasses is surprising and astonishing.

Qui sont ces collectionneurs de l’étrange et du bizarre en quête d’une identité? Avec eux pouvons-nous être réduits à des “datas” et à des reconnaissances faciales sur caméras  publiques ou même à nos empreintes digitales? 

Nothing is more suited to the collector than anonymity: wholly devoted to his objects, he only identifies with himself in their accumulation. And if he had to give himself an identity, he woukd look for it, refracted, scattered, multiplied, enthused much more than in his personal data, in that jigsaw puzzle that he never ceases to complete. The sympomatic clutter of the cabinet originally offered something like the aesthetic rendering of the world’s diversity . The piling is here an aesthetic gesture, a way of holding thing at arm’s length, of maintaining them in movement, in the instable balance of waiting. What will appear to a passing visitor like an absolute confusion of objects is for its organiser  patiently constructed , loaded with  associations, crossed with analogies, heavy with memory and meaning. 

Who are these collectors of the bizarre and the weird looking for an identity? Along the same line, can we be reduced to “datas” and facial recognition on public cameras or even to our fingerprints?