Yesterday I was surprised by an offer to write about…about anything. That’s right. About anything. Thus, I have been sitting and pondering what it would look like to write about everything. It would probably be a collection of short stories—a collection which is gradually growing, building, and filling an electronic room. I would call it a wunderkammer—or as we might say in English, a cabinet of curiosities—but because we are in the digital realm, I will append an e and call it my e-wunderkammer.
When I was a child, I was forced to invent my own toys. My monetary means were quite austere. However, my internal needs for intelligent and creative activity were extravagant. Somewhere at the intersection of my means and needs, I began creating my own wunderkammer, utilizing empty shoe boxes. I painted their interiors with stars, suns, moons, trees, flowers, etc. I collected rocks, dry insects, butterflies, leaves, plants, old marbles, shells, beads, broken pieces of mantle, gilded ornamentation, etc. Everything, every object was interesting to my eyes and filled with the potential to tell me the story of its adventures. Everything in my hands became material to create a new story, which stoked curiosity–firstly my own, and then that of others.
I created quite sizable wunderboxes—my little microcosms. I didn’t have any idea at that time that rooms filled with such collections were popular in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. The collections included specimens of natural history (sometimes forgeries), geology, ethnography, archeology, religious and historical relics, works of art (from cabinet paintings to busts), and antiques. These “Wonder Chambers” gave rise to modern museums, but you can still find them today. A wunderkammer depicts the theatre of the world in miniature—just not quite as miniature as my wunderboxes.
The years have gone by. I do not even know what happened to my remembered theatres. I have not investigated their fates. I think my laziness has prevented such investigation; it has been easier and more interesting to fashion new ones. These latest ones have not been limited by the size of the walls where I used to keep my wunderboxes. Now I display them all over the world, thus enlarging Anna’s theatre—in front of a larger audience as well.
On this occasion, I am presenting some pictures out of a file in my e-wunderkammer named “Lapidarium: Flora.”