Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Museum of Innocence

The future Museum of Innocence, Çukurcuma, Istanbul

"The museum is not an illustration of the novel and the novel is not an explanation of the museum. They are two representations of one single story perhaps." To build a real museum of a fictional event is to enter the möbius strip of reality, surreality, superfiction. Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence, 2009, is both a novel and an actual project, a museum to be established in Çukurcuma, an area in Istanbul. Exhibited in the museum will be items related to the novel, and within the pages of the book is a map and a ticket to the museum.

Like another museal superfiction, The Museum of Contemporary Ideas, the imbricated loops and links, shuttling between a real city and an imagined story, set up a parallel existence, one which is never wholly realisable. Peter Hill's Museum of Contemporary Ideas, 1989, was the birthplace of 'superfiction,' the use of visual and textual language of official institutions to frame invented, fictional institutions, events, or people. Hill’s Art Fair Murders was both a novel and an installation that interwove fact and fiction.

Or even the recent tale of real-life French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy who unwittingly cited a fictitious philosopher in his latest book, De la Guerre en Philosophie. In the book Lévy quotes Jean-Baptiste Botul, a faux philosopher invented by Frederic Pages. Although perceived as a major error on Lévy's part - even a quick search on the internet will reveal the nature of Botul's existence, and his particular strand of philosophy known as Botulism - perhaps, just maybe, it is an intricate work of superfiction... Like Pamuk's creation of a real museum for a fictional story, of Hill's elaborate interweaving of life and art, citing an imaginary theorist might elevate mere philosophy to a work of art...

(Image above from Açalya Allmer (2009) Orhan Pamuk's 'Museum of Innocence': on architecture, narrative and the art of collecting . Arq : Architectural Research Quarterly, 13(2))

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