1000 Extra/ordinary Objects by Taschen
I have long admired German publisher Taschen’s affordable art and design books – I have quite a few in my library on favourite artists (Hopper, various Pop Artists, etc).
To celebrate their 25th anniversary, they produced a series of books, and 1000 Extra/Ordinary objects (note the slash) is one of them. I found this in one of my local charity shops, and snapped it up.
It simply features 1000 objects clearly photographed against a white background, with a short descriptive text for each in English and German. But what a collection of objects!
They are divided into thematic chapters: Food, Fashion, Animals, Body, Soul, and Leisure. A short foreword by Peter Gabriel discusses our relationship with our stuff…
People like to surround themselves with objects – it’s part of our nature. It may be an anal instinct, but we like our stuff.
People are surrounded by their objects, whether they are useful, decorative, beautiful, ugly, common or rare, we can’t help but leave clues everywhere as to our identity. Clues about our culture, national identity, political ideology, religious affiliation and sexual inclinations, our objects reflect who we really are and who we want to be. …
We have made pictures of our ancestors from the things they have left behind. So it will be for the archaeologists of the future – by our objects you will know us.
I’ve picked a very small selection of objects to share with you below. The majority are even more interesting than these, but would be difficult to show here in isolation for all sorts of non-PC reasons…
Food: (left) 3.7 million cans of this were sold in 1997 – the shapes include dolls, bows, necklaces, high-heels. There are all sorts of brain and designer foods in this section too.
Fashion: (right) A South African carry case for your AK-47, only available in black. Also featuring a variety of boots, pubic wigs, bottom enhancing pads etc. Very few conventional clothes!
Animals: (left) US La Pooch perfume from 1987 was available in his (spicy) and her (musky) fragrances for your dog.
Body: (right) you can buy aerosols containing pure oxygen. NB: Most of the objects in this section are sex-toys or body enhancements! I did learn why condoms are called ‘French letters’ though (they were illegal in England at one time, and were sent inside letters from France – simples!)
Soul: (left) a Star of David slinky in national colours from the USA. Also many plastic icons, prayer aids, and the cilicio (as worn by Silas in The Da Vinci Code, a device to make you feel uncomfortable).
Leisure: (right) Now the war is over, you can buy engraved bullet cases in Sarajevo. Also a Polish Lego model of a concentration camp, Philippino paper chains used as room separators made from ciggie packets.
All of human life is here – absurd, funny, fascinating – but nasty, gruesome and thought-provoking too. None of these items are ordinary – those future archaeologists will have a field-day!
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Source: Own copy. To explore further on Amazon, please click below:
1000 Extraordinary Objects, Taschen (2000), Colors (2005). Currently o/p.