Life as an auction catalogue: inspiration for archaeologists

Juggling with some final touches on a text on bodies on display in interwar Romania,  random things ‘to do’ (book reviews, networking etc,) and some sleep, I have stumbled upon this little gem: Important Artifacts and Personal Property From the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton.

It is a book with an awful looking cover (not just that you are shown 2 puddels, they have to be plastic puddles!). But it sounds like a brilliant one- haven’t seen it personally, but the idea in itself is great: it’s a novel, a story of a relationship in the form of an auction catalogue.

Lenore is 26, a Canadian columnist who writes about food and recipes, while Harold, British, about 13 years older, is a photographer who travels around the globe. Both live in Manhattan where, in 2002, they met at a Halloween party

The catalogue contains notes, personal items, clothes, stuff from their bags, all labeled and described through the dry language of an auction house. In the same time, they all tie in together and tell a story, the story of their intertwined lives. If you care to read more about it: here.

The whole idea of the book comprises all that we need to talk about when we think about archaeology texts: you have the critique of taxonomy and dry detached language, you have the struggle to tell a story, you have objects, traces and memories, you have lives and words that need to capture them, and you have readers who are challenged to find the story…

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