I had read that Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, the 2006 Nobel Laureate, was creating a museum of eclectic and ephemeral objects in Istanbul, a sort of real-life illustration and companion piece to his elegiac novel of lost love and those caught between traditional and western ways of being, The Museum of Innocence (Faber & Faber).
So, when moving some books around in the shop yesterday, I was really pleased to come across The Innocence of Objects (Abrams), a catalogue of said museum, written by Pamuk. The unusual museum opened in Istanbul just last year – hands up all those who want to go there??
The collection is evocative of Istanbul’s past: there are family photos, playbills, odd and homely objects long fallen out of use, the everyday ephemera, bric-a-brac and clutter that appears to tell you so much while retaining a mysterious reticence about what life was really like…the book is just as fascinating and mysterious and it is very beautiful. Pamuk’s mini essays, his thoughts on the objects and images themselves, the role of photography, the nature of collecting, family, the past and Istanbul triggered/explained by the objects and images he has collected are a treat. He is rumoured to have spent his Nobel Prize money on bringing the museum to completion – what a fascinating, mysterious, somehow innocent, and truly excellent thing to do.