Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A curious and fun read: auction catalog as narrative.

I heard Leanne Shapton interviewed on CBC's Q a few months ago about her book-disguised-as-an-auction-catalog.  Entitled Important Artifacts and Personal Property of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry:  Sunday, 14 February 2009, New York", it's a kind of diary-in-objects of the relationship between Lenore and Harold.  I immediately requested it from the library and it just came up a few days ago.


I've included a few pages here to give you the drift...Lot 1079 (above) is a Cosmetics Case and contents...reading through the list  gives a little picture of Lenore, it's owner, right down to the miniature bottle of Heinz ketchup which other commentary suggests she has a need to have with her at all times.  Lenore is a professional cake-baker and writes a food column called "Cakewalk".  Harold is a photographer or journalist who travels a lot.  We see the time-line of their relationship in emails, photographs, clothing, gifts, letters, invitations, books, tschockes, all of which are up for sale.  

We see a number of St. Valentin dinner menus crafted by Lenore, and the strain that begins to appear in the emails and notes to each other. It's kind of a voyeuristic journey into a relationship, told in objects that have been described for auction.  

Example (photo of mug with broken handle and note) :  
Lot 1232.  
A brown mug.  
A broken brown glazed mug stamped "Brickett Davda Made in England" on base. 
$5-7 (auction estimate)
Included in this lot is a note handwritten by Doolen.  
Reads: "H I'm so sorry, I know this was your favorite.  Will get it fixed, I promise."

It was the perfect read for a rainy afternoon, and allowed me to create my own story around the ephemera and objects that Ms. Sharpton has so carefully photographed and documented.

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