It is unclear who she is or why she is there. Is she travelling? Holidaying? Doing business? Visiting a lover… or all of these things? She changes the room around daily, trying to instill familiarity into a new environment. She has brought treasures from home; jewellery, textiles, objects to give the space a sense of place and familiarity... things that hide and distract from her own displacement. The room displays a collection of mementos, a sense of luxury; objects that provide visual joy and a reflection on places, loves, activities... but they could also easily be left behind. The Abandoned Boudoir is an exhibition that aims to create a sense of place outside of its place(s) of origin.
“This is the only time I have seen her caught like this, caught in a History (of tastes, fashions, fabrics); my attention is distracted from her by accessories which have perished; for clothing is perishable, it makes a second grave for the loved being. In order to ‘find’ my [grandmother] fugitively alas, and without ever being able to hold on to this resurrection for long, I must, much later, discover in several photographs the objects she kept on her dressing table, an ivory powder box (I loved the sound of its lid), cut crystal flagon, or else a low chair, which is now near my own bed, or again, the raffia panels she arranged by the divan, the large bags she loved (whose comfortable shapes belied the bourgeois notion of the ‘handbag’). Thus the life of someone whose existence has somewhat preceded our own encloses in its particularity the very tension of History, its division. History is hysterical: it is constituted only if we consider it, only if we look at it – and in order to look at it, we must be excluded from it.” 1
Dedicated to my Mother and Grandmothers who instilled in me the romance of travel.
Curator: Marisia Lukaszewski
Presented by: Asialink, University of Melbourne
1. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida (Flamingo 1984), p.64.