It’s nice when they’re soft.

In the last lecture before Christmas break, I asked my second-year students on the Afterlife of Objects: Collecting, Museums, Display course to come up with a short definition of ‘object’ – basically to summarise in one or two sentences what the course was all about. Here are some of the students’ answers:

An object’s materiality can withstand time, but its meaning can be infinitely diverse.

An object is anything which is contextualised by the fact that it has the focused attention of a viewer.

Something we can visualise and hold – evoking feelings, memories, aspirations. It’s nice when they’re soft.

The meaning of an object is affected by its relationship with people. In many cases it represents an extended part of a person such as their memory.

Joseph Beuys, Noiseless Blackboard Eraser, 1974. Felt, paper, ink.

Anything and everything.

A physical item that acquires meaning through labelling by human beings.

An object is something which has a biography – without it, it may not exist.

Simply something one can engage with.

A physical thing that belongs to someone or something, either part of a collection or existing on its own.

An object is an anchor for discourse and memory.

An object is a compound of physical matter meaningful to some, meaningless to others.

Something of personal value which can be defined by its context.

Jenny Christmann, 20 Woollen Books, 1977-78. Wool and acrylic.

An object is an inanimate thing within a specific context that undergoes change through historical documentation and shifts in place and time. Constantly redeveloping its relations with humanity.

An object is an item which has significance to a person/culture.

An object dies away, but its memory is eternal.

An existential dilemma.

One thought on “It’s nice when they’re soft.

  1. an existential dilemma, i love that one. wishing you a very happy new year in advance, as i shall be out of the blogosphere for 2 weeks. best wishes, shayma

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