Stories and histories

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. These antiques live down at Mu Lan Warehouse, a two hours away trip by metro and bus from the center of Shanghai. Spiced up by layers of dust and erosion, by dirt and hundreds of engraved fingerprints, they routinely inhabit an old, covert secondhand store in a space forgotten by the fast pace of the big city’s hustle and bustle. The spirit of these objects’ previous owners live on through them. The lives, stories and trajectories of their owners are deep inside the core of the antiques. At the same time, these broken down, malfunctioning and in a way ‘dead’ items tell a story of their own existence. They have a life of their own and possess an acting energy, a life force to call it so, that exercises an influence on owners. Of course, the owners had an agency of their own that guided the trajectories of the objects.

In a material culture world, these articles are more than lifeless things, they are actors that impose their will on people and spaces. What might their stories and histories be?

Their beauty and uniqueness lies in the dust that covers them, in their cracks, in the faded paint, in the fingerprints that touched them. Antiques have soul or a multiplicity of souls that can touch your inner self, your life, your space, your house. They come with a vibe that bounces back and forth between past, present and future. Antiques kick ass in comparison to new, mass-produced, hollow items.

I don’t want to make a case about how sustainable it would be if we were to adopt these antiques and give them a new home, instead of buying new articles all the time, whose production requires the use of too many resources!

But let’s imagine the stories of the antiques  in the pictures!

Female silhouette frame:

The deceased Mr. Weng Zhou purchased the object at a flea market during a business trip to Beijing on the 12th of September 1955. He hid it in a secret compartment of his brown leather suitcase and never revealed it to anyone. When he got back home to Guangzhou, in the middle of the night, he locked it up  in the drawer of his desk. He was fascinated by the female silhouette, attracted by its shapes and by its apparent nudity. He imagined its nudity, he played with it. Every midnight he would slip out of his matrimonial bed and go to his desk, take out the female silhouette, gaze at it for hours on end and get lost in imaginary scenes of passion and perversion. His wife was a shy lady that never wanted to experience anything new in bed and had a totally conservative notion of what their sex life should be. The female silhouette incited Mr. Zhou’s and his midnight fantasies made up for his wife’s lack of imagination. When Mr. Zhou died, his children inherited his possessions and decided to get rid of the ‘useless’ decorative objects. They frowned when they found the female silhoutte and threw it in a bin never to talk about it again. The female silhoutte was meant to burn with a pile of rubbish in an incinerator outside of Guangzhou. However, the antique collector, nicknamed Tintin (yes, like the Belgian comic book character) rescued it during one of his collection journeys and brought it back to his Shanghai store.

 

Broken typewriter:

My name’s Jack the Ripper. I killed a few, but I also gave birth to a few…books, satires, novels, poems, letters, newspaper articles, love notes, etc. My keys moved with the speed of light from morning ’til dawn, at very  odd moments. I slept very little, if at all. I never took a rest and I almost never had time to replace my ink. My life was long and painful, whereas my friends, the poor paper sheets, were regularly doomed, destined to die as soon as they were picked up by my master’s fingers. During my entire lifetime, I gave birth to 3 novels, 4 love letters, 12 break-up letters, 3 satires, 55 poems, one nonfiction book and a bunch of newspaper articles. Should I be content? I killed, ripped, cut the throat and abdomens of other 113 letters, 12 novels, 5 books, 89 poems, 27 love notes and 43 newspaper article. I am surely an innate murderer. Despite, my life was nothing but miserable. I fretted the writing pace of my master, he struck me down various times, he tossed me in the middle of the room, he threatened to burn me and terrorized me with abandonment. He poured whiskey on me, he smashed glasses of wine on my keys, he took out the letters he hated,  he punished me for his writer’s block and every second day he would pathetically apologize to me. He liked to call me “The industrial-strength machine” since I was highly resistant to his constant abuses. I felt more like ‘Jack the ripper’, guilty and full of shame. Of course I wasn’t psychotic, but one day I couldn’t take my master’s temper anymore and I broke down for good. He put me out angrily in the middle of the road, hoping that a car would run me over and smash me into little pieces, However, his will was not to be. It so happened that Tintin saw me when he was crossing Wuding Lu, picked me up and took me to his antique store with the taxi. I get peace, company and a lot of affection from visitors in the store. Look, I was even given  a voice by a visitor and now hundreds of people will get to see me and know my story. Boy, I am happy!

Can you imagine the stories of the other objects in the pictures?

Melancholic romance

An early spring morning

With a taste of soy milk latte

The crispy chilly air and the rays of sun

Smiles and Edith Piaf music

French brings back the old, the past, the adolescence

Romance,melancholy

Waiting and observing

Bonding with memories

The Portugese stage of my life,

Fado gives spirit

To the old communist blocks

First loves, first lessons, first embraces

First deceptions, first tears,first falls

The love of life, the life of love

Comes alive

On Greek island music now

Oh melancholic romance,

Thou art so sweet!

I wanted to describe my country in words…

But I can’t. There is so much rage and frustration inside of me that my words would be just foolish, full of hate and no smart insights. I could write a book analyzing the political situation of Romania, the sociocultural background of the country that influences the mentality of the people, but in the end I would sum up everything by saying that this country embarrasses the EU. The most adequate adjective for the country is corrupt. And don’t get me wrong…the geographical position, the natural environment, the long-lost hospitality of people and the dying traditional arts, crafts and customs were great. Things worth loving or liking in Romania disappear rapidly with each passing day. So, nowadays, I hate this country because I hate its people. Some might condemn me and say that I am not patriotic. A lot of people will probably consider me a shame to my own country because I had the courage to state that I hate it. But guess what? I don’t mind. I am a citizen of the world, a simple human being that does not care about its nationality. And ironically enough, I’ve been treated and welcomed better in other countries I’ve lived in. The fact that I was born in Romania does not mean I should be devoted to a place just because it happened to be my birthplace. I didn’t choose it and I am allowed to criticize it and feel the way I do about it.

However, I won’t get into soliloquies here and I will let pictures describe the grim situation. One more thing, why are things the way they are? Because what is rotten comes from people’s inside. The top men and women of the country, ‘le creme de le creme’ are fucking corrupt, thieves with no scruples, illiterates with no kindness or consciousness. Money and materialism rule this country. Everyone else is simply not courageous enough to stand up to what is wrong. Incessant complaints, but no action. People want a top-down change, but the reality is that this country needs brave people who will slowly affect and bring positive changes through bottom-up approaches.

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Soil pollution exactly near big villas. Ok, let’s say you don’t care about the environment, but not giving a shit about how horrible the landscape is just outside of your house? It’s literally visually disturbing.

Impossible…but well, people in Romania live in their own bubbles….an allien invasion or public whipping of school children might happen just outside their houses and they wouldn’t give a damn.

 

Massive illegal deforestation that has been going on since the 1989 revolution. Wakey wakey, who cares about the resources of the country, about the oxygen, the balance of humans and nature, the ongoing climate change? And yeah, I care more about trees, animals and nature because they are kind and never consume more than they need for their own sustenance.

 

Lovely view for any traveler who wants to relax near the river or in the forest. Ha ha, what a brilliant joke! But who cares? I mean, people go camping and they leave tons of garbage behind and throw plastic bottles and remains in the water. Isn’t it disheartening for them and other travelers? Gosh, and they judge Roma people for living and indulging in dirt. But are they better? Nope…And I won’t even mention the environmental aspect of the whole situation. Imagine how annoying it is for environmentalists to see  dumped plastic, which isn’t even biodegradable. How much more efficient would be to recycle all those poor plastic bottles!

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If you are not rich enough or you don’t have caring, ‘loaded’ relatives to pay for your hospitalization and treatment in a private hospital you will end up in a public hospital that looks like this. And let’s not talk about Bucharest or other big cities…they might have a few better hospitals, but the rest of the country is lucky enough to even have these shitholes. People get more and more sick under these disturbing circumstances by breathing unhealthy air and by being in an unsanitary environment where germs spread with the speed of light. And let’s add to these some grumpy nurses who act like they are the queens of the hospital and the patients are beggars. And doctors who never explain anything to you and dismiss any questions you might have.

 

How do old people fare? Not much better, they have ridiculously low pensions and struggle to survive by any means possible. These old people are the ones who vote and would even sell their souls (not to mention their political votes) for some extra cash or food.

P.S: Dead people and Romanian expats from all over the globe vote in Romania in their home cities!  I knew that Romanian people believe in spirits and ghosts, but to go as far as making them vote?

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Poor Roma people. Everyone complains that they are thieves by nature and that they should be exterminated (ha ha, of course there are a lot of wannabe Hitlers in Romania, they would enjoy an ethnic cleansing).

What a lot of human beings who live in Romania associate with Roma people: “They love and indulge in their shitty, dirty, full of garbage environments.” But no one actually takes into account the fact that society pushes these people into miserable slums and that they have no choice or opportunity to improve themselves and opt out of stealing, begging and rat-like living conditions. The areas where they live have no current electricity, water or heating, no sewage systems and cities nearby dump their trash next to the houses of these ‘guilty to be born in Roma communities’.

Hey, kids, you are the future of this country! That’s it if you make it past teenagehood without becoming drug addicts, homeless, construction workers, illiterate, part of illegal prostitution networks or tortured physically or psychologically by foster parents or in orphanages.

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People love buying expensive cars that stand for their material wealth and social status in society. But when it comes to roads and highways….let me tell you that everyone should use off-road vehicles.

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The arhitecture of the country is amazing, full of spirit and decaying day by day. We have more architects than buildings in despair. However, they don’t have jobs or work in boring projects or they migrate to China because those people build a lot. And our outstanding old buildings might collapse very soon. Preservation of heritage? That’s considered heretical in Romania.

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Can you believe that Bucharest, a city of approximately 1 870 000 inhabitants, is as crowded during peak hours in the metro as Shanghai, a city of 24 000 000 people? Hell, no. Not to mention the insalubrious conditions and falling down fragments of cement at train and metro stations.

This part hurts me the most and shows me how inhuman some people in Romania are. I really wish we had a police force that concentrated on protecting all animals at any cost. For example, bears’ paws are considered a delicacy and natural furs are paraded by stylish women with no principles. I won’t comment further because animals in this country have no rights. Their lives and freedom are in danger constantly. This country is a human jungle where both people and animals suffer alike.

At the Movies

 

Chamomile is my cup of tea

Old notes, the purple lilies of the field

The dusty, rigid, oak tree chairs

The spirit of the past, dim lights

And oldies music set the scene.

The sounds of life, a child’s energy

Blonde heads and quiet dreams

All captured in the room

In the entirety of its sea

Across the stage of hopes and screens

There is a writer

Creation and impression,

Spontaneous intention.

Last winter’s cold day, the coming of spring

There is a stranger caught in my string.

Timid glances and loud laughs

Our nervous moves on Milli Vanilli are delirious

Chamomile is my cup of tea!

His is syrup from the pine tree.

Have you ever been at the movies?

Daydreaming

 

A red lucky moving hand Japanese cat

Looks insistently at a Westerner with a hat

The street barbecue floats in fat

The teachers gave a talk to a random Matt

A handsome Korean on an Alvar Aalto chair sat

Another daydreaming session in a café

With my pet the rainbow bat

The letters of a faded, burnt postcard

Rotate with fervor in a mental hospital ward

Imaginary friends eat a bowlful of lard

The emperor’s castle collapsed and killed the bard

The foundations of this fantasy story are hard

Covered in milk the lamp seems a tart

I am stuck in a corner; I am Alice in love with a leopard

At the counter full of cakes there is a clown

The odd collection of teaspoons fell down

The construction worker, the nurse, the guard are all sound

But the sofas, the fluorescent walls, the plants are bound

Are chained to my notebook while they drown

In the room there is a single crown

The queen lost, the plot was written by my hound.

Becoming

 

He called me frivole!

Cold in the wind of winter

I saw the word as a binder,

Hot, bitter, sour in a mug

Frivolous!

He called me addicted!

Flinging and clinging with desperation

The word brought into mind frustration,

Illusion, delusion, necessity are sweet

Addictive!

He called me désolée!

A fading color leaf in autumn

I took the word as utterly forgotten,

In flight and dance of rouge created

Desolated!