The Museum of Innocence
I’ve always been a writer but I also became an artist along the way. I’m trained more as an artist than as anything else and for a long time I made more art than writing. It slowly occured to me that lots of the things I wanted to talk about in my art were very hard to do. There were issues of complexity, of how to make large pieces of work, of how to address multiple complex issues. I could do this in art, but it took time and money to get anywhere interesting and in times when I had little or no money I had to stop talking.
There was also the issue of how literal one is allowed to be in art. I haven’t stopped making art, I can’t wait to get back to it, but I’ve decided that I can address the issues I wanted to in writing. I made a decision that the novel was a good simulacrum for the best art (or the best art is a simulacrum for novels, I don’t mind which). My subject remains the same but I found I could get a lot closer to the subject in a wordy novel.
Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel prize winner from Turkey, wrote a book called The Museum of Innocence. He owned an old house in Istanbul and he decided to create an actual museum to work with the book. It’s taken a decade to make this museum. There are 83 different cabinets and 83 chapters in the book – a lovely mirroring.
As the Guardian reported:
Many cabinets feature video and sound installations depicting 1950s Istanbul. But the place is decisively not a museum of the city: many newspaper clippings, ads and “historic” photographs have been fabricated to represent specific characters and scenes from the novel and are by no means authentic objects.
Pamuk worked with several cutators and young Turkish artists to find a way of realising the project, which he had had in mind ever since the 1990s when he bought the house.
I completely understand the desire to do this. I have had one show that created objects from the edges of one of my novels and I would really like to do more, it is a very satisfying way to work.
The website of the Museum of Innocence.