Married by Powers
Bouvard and Pécuchet, the two maniac collectors
from one of Flaubert‘s books, derived from a
few stones from the Celticpast not only all of
Western culture but the & ’meaning‘ of that
culture as well. Those menhirs lead them to
construct the phallic wing of their museum:
“.... in former times, towers, pyramids,
candles, milestones and even trees had a
phallic significance, and for Bouvard and
Pécuchet everything became phallic. They
collected swing-poles of carriages, chair-legs,
cellar bolts, pharmacists’ pestles. When people
came to see them they would ask: ‘What do you
think that looks like?’ then confide the
mystery, and if there were objections, they
shrugged their shoulders pityingly.”
(1)

Somehow, the phenomenon of collecting, the
basis of a museum, is that ''the set of
objects the museum displays is sustained only
by the fiction that they somehow constitute a
coherent representation of the universe. [....]
Should the fiction disappear, there is nothing
left of the museum but a & ‘bric-a-brac’, a
heap of meaningless and valueless fragments of
objects which are incapable of substituting

 
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Married by Powers
themselves either metonymically for the
original object or metaphorically for their
representations''
. (2)

Though not convinced of any universal vision
whatsoever, we are interested in the possible
significance of collections and archives, and
in how, time and again, different meanings can
be derived from them. Culture as such means
little, for todays‘s cultural resistance is
tomorrow’s art object or commercial product. Of
more importance are the conditions of cultural
production, how culture is produced. In this
case: the way a collection can be activated and
revitalised, as a tool or even a weapon, to
view, comment and rethink culture. Because this
is how points of view and positions can be
adjusted, changed, developed and sharpened.

A collection with accompanying storage, the
depot hardly ever leaves the cellars of the
museum where it is concealed, and if it does,
usually in small parts. Married by Powers
enlightens some aspects of & the collection’:
transport, storage, presentation,
documentation, mediation, public, and personal
 
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< Bik Van der Pol

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