By Creator:Edmund de WaalPhotographed by: York Museums Trust Staff
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This kind of thinking appeals to me, and it goes a long way towards offering an explanation about the way objects speak to us, particularly when we are introduced to them for the very first time. For instance, whenever I’m presented with an object I’ve never seen before, any number of stories begin to form in my head. Who it may have belonged to. Where it may have originated. How old it might be. I have become the next step in the object’s journey, and the fact that it’s talking to me means that I have become inextricably tied up in its story. The newest cast member, if you like.
Edmund de Waal’s ‘Atemwende’ (Breathturn), is inspired by the poetry of Paul Celan. I studied Aesthetics for a year, and a lot of good it did me, because I find it difficult to articulate my response to it, beyond saying that it’s quite beautiful. It’s unfortunate that most of us are at the mercy of the language used by aesthetes and critics, when discussing art. It has its place, but it can also distract or impede. So my advice is to approach any new object as you would a friend. Allow it to introduce itself to you, and listen to its story. Simply look beyond what you see in front of you, to the point where words and objects meet. There will be signs that mark the artist’s journey, believe me.