The Ephemera(l) Institution 5

by Martin Gantman

It is time to move on. The notion of what an ephemeron is, the thing that lasts for only a day – the act, the object, the idea – and also, arguably, its representation after its demise, has been viewed in these, what one friend was kindly enough to characterize as musings, and in the studio, may not have been fully addressed, but it is the aspect of the institution that dwells on its ephemera that wants, primarily, to be considered. Through the proceedings of our inquiry a fuller understanding of the nature of ephemera might emerge.

What is the value in cataloging and exhibiting such ephemeral qualities, and perhaps in so doing also creating another layer of ephemera, a second order of the original? Does this institution define ephemera, or do its historical interests define the institution?

The institution did not start out to be this, a repository for the almost-lost past – nor is that its exclusive purview by far. But, somehow, its commingling of the present with the fumes of the past tends to color its persona. Ostensibly, it is a laboratory that focuses on culture – in all of its manifestations, but it is this, the ineffable flavor of its mien that leads one to be suspicious of a bias. Perhaps this quality we are laboriously striving to ascertain is inherent in the demeanor (as in the reek of an unsettled past lingering to collect its relevant opportunity) of the assemblage of its collected objects; the ones that will, trustingly, be selected to point toward a contemporary moment and eventually, through a personal reassembling of perceptual markers, to an alternative observation.

Sometimes there is the feeling of the past trying to reorder its agreement with the present, as if present never actually occurs.

Perhaps in Pablo Neruda’s Ode to the Dictionary there are clues to this issue:

Dictionary, you are not

a grave, a tomb, or a coffin,

neither sepulchre nor mausoleum:

you are preservation,

hidden fire,

field of rubies,

vital continuity

of essence,

language’s granary.