Examine the things that surround you. Would you be able to work, move, sleep, eat and rest if they didn’t exist? Since the beginning of civilization, objects have shaped our spiritual, cultural and social identities. Whether it’s a 14th-century metalsmith’s toolkit, a shaman’s instrument used in sacred rituals, a modern-day queen’s crown or the latest smartphone, objects are undeniably fundamental to our daily existence, and often mark our trade, status, gender, and age.
Many objects, however, go unnoticed until they break or stop being functional. The decision to repair the object or replace it with another demonstrates its true value and meaning in our lives. Would you repair or replace a damaged family heirloom, your late grandfather’s pocket watch, an antique painting or your favorite pair of shoes?
The Gold Museum’s latest temporary exhibition “Esto tiene arreglo? cómo y por qué reparamos las cosas” (Can this be fixed? How and why do we repair things), invites visitors to reflect on the idea of why humans fix objects. With pieces from collections belonging to the Gold Museum, the Luis Ángel Arango Library, and the Colección de Arte del Banco de la República, the display examines the relationship between people and objects from the pre-Hispanic era through the art of repair. By exploring different repair techniques applied to damaged artifacts during that time, we can begin to understand the objects’ significance and relevance in the indigenous societies.
A gold crown, for example, was irreplaceable as it represented leadership and authority. Careful repair methods were, therefore, needed to ensure the symbol of power was passed down from generation to generation. Similarly, a decorated, handmade clay pot can suggest what the life of an indigenous woman was like. And depending on the number of repairs the pot has, we can discern how important it was to her.
The exhibition also delves into the notion that nothing stays the same throughout its lifetime. Every human action leaves a mark on an object, and every mark, crack or imperfection illustrates the nature of the object and the activity it was used for. Despite this, not all marks are appreciated, and in certain situations, any changes to an object’s appearance or function can alter our connection and feelings toward it.
However, a quote by singer-songwriter, Leonard Cohen included in the exhibition suggests that perhaps it’s necessary for things to break for us to really cherish and appreciate the particular object in our lives: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Can this be fixed? How and why we repair things runs until September 16th
Entry is included in the entrance ticket to the Gold Museum.
Museo del Oro – Parque Santader Calle 16 between Cra 7 and 5.