There are more than 8 million ordinary objects in this city that carry within them a sense of its inimitable expression. They express its thundering diversity or a thorough particularity; they connect us to other places, past and present, or moor us to the here and now; they enliven or aggravate daily life; they epitomize the city at large or hold true to one of its neighborhoods. They may be small, held, and mobile or large, unwieldy, and stationary. Well-designed or just well-used, they live and survive, carried by the city’s inhabitants from place to place, from generation to generation, creating a ripple of small meanings.
This exhibition features 62 objects selected by designers, artists, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, writers, musicians and others — all faculty at The New School and inhabitants of New York — that each narrate a biography of this place. They are variously historical, cultural, technological, organic, novel, typical, skilled, shoddy, mundane, luxurious, exclusive, popular or sensual.
In assembling these objects, the exhibition instantiates Parsons’ new undergraduate curriculum; specifically one of its core courses, Objects as History: From Prehistory to Industrialization, which uses objects found in New York City collections to introduce students to world history as expressions and embodiments of particular places and times. Acknowledging the justifiably famous British Museum exhibition and radio program, A History of the World in 100 Objects, this exhibition situates objects as narratives of the present.
Curated by Radhika Subramaniam and Margot Bouman
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