PORTMANTEAU: THE SOUVENIR_COLLECTION | Istanbul | Unit 21 | 2011
The novel, ‘Istanbul – Memories and the City’ is a memoir to the home city of Orhan Pamuk. As he guides us through the back streets and waterways of Istanbul, he unveils the story of his boyhood.
The project began by attempting to analyse the city using Pamuk’s memories of his childhood as the only source and create a physical response; an exploration in ‘objects of memory’. A photo album, a scrapbook, a shoebox, can be transformed into objects of memory and nostalgia by the contents they hold; seemingly unremarkable from the outside, but containing treasure-troves of personal histories. The Souvenir came into being due to the ‘fear of forgetting’. Believing that memories can be transferred from the mind to the material object through association, we aim to preserve the memory beyond its mental existence. In meaning the souvenir is usually supplemented with a narrative, (Chapter .4 – A Sad Tour of the Streets). The souvenir has little or no value in its materiality; instead the value is placed within the narrative of the possessor, not the object – of the origins that it alludes to. By replacing the memory of the body with the memory of the object we create a memory ‘standing outside the self’ and thus although an object may be saturated with meaning to its Owner, these are unlikely to be revealed to the Finder as it lies outside of his or her own experience. The physical object or image can also often overpower the fragile mental recollection of experience and cause it to decay, leaving only the object itself. Images become exaggerated and fragmented. Colours, smells and sounds fade.
The final model is a vessel that analyses this concept of Owner/Finder. A collection of miniature representations is brought together, held by a vessel that references their geographical origins. The Finder may peek inside, play with the pieces and enjoy the toy-like qualities of the box. However only the Owner understands the retracing of the old tramlines, the shift over time, the fading of colours and smells of childhood.