Friday, 9 October 2015

Object and Event

"It is a category mistake to attribute dates to objects at all; because only events have dates. What objects have is histories."—Alfred Gell
hat tip 


David Knell said...

It would be interesting to know the context of Gell's comment (Art and Agency?). Taken only by itself, it comes across as merely a silly swipe at object-based studies for the sake of a trendy soundbite and its logic is flawed. Yes, "only events have dates" but it is not only whole sites that have been shaped by events; every individual object is also the product of them. Objects have "histories" AND dates. To advocate that we should not attribute dates to objects would be as delinquent as not bothering to analyse the past at all.

Hoping Gell's comment made a bit more sense in its context. It's utter rubbish without it.

Paul Barford said...

Thanks, surely Gell's point is that objects "are" and can continue to affect us, irrespective of the events that created them, I took this more as a view akin to the ('object- based') one of the collector and museum curator. But of course it is the "history" of the object after the events which shaped them and conditioned their original use which is important from the viewpoint of this blog.

David Knell said...

Yes, I assumed that was his point (judging by his use of the phrase "category mistake") but it's an awfully awkward way of expressing it and, taken in isolation, doesn't make much sense. However, I do see the relevance, albeit ungainly, to the thrust of your blog. ;)

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