We posted a while ago about the Pazyryk Carpet, better known as the oldest “living” carpet in the world. It is humbling to contemplate this still colorful artifact, especially as this week has brought more than a few stories of hacking. One technology journalist’s electronic devices – an I-phone, I-pad and MacBook- were remotely accessed and wiped clean, along with his cloud-stored data. The Australian government’s web presence was briefly crippled by the hacking group Anonymous. And on a personal note, I dropped my phone, and with it photos from Spain, weddings, and family off of a balcony. All of this is to say, in the digital age, there is a certain inherent ephemerality that is in stark contrast to the timeless antique woven works that we display, buy and sell here at Nazmiyal.
It is odd to think that something that is designed to be walked and / or slept on is more durable and long lasting than anything that we do online, from photography to writing love letters. This rings especially true to me, as I am typing this blog post.
Poet Joseph Addison wrote that “We are always doing, something for Posterity, but I would fain see Posterity doing something for us.” The Pazyrk Carpet, the pyramids in Egypt, and ironically, even that particular Joseph Addison quote, showcase Posterity’s giving nature.
We are, however, in many ways, culturally averse to posterity. This fact becomes hauntingly obvious with a trip to the dump or to the Mac Store, where planned obsolescence is not only the norm, but applauded.
Carpets – real, handmade rugs and carpets that last several generations – challenge the predominant economic and cultural model of consumption. They are beautiful, practical, lasting, and not to mention, timeless. A good Persian rug, like a good little black dress, never goes out of style. That is why it is so fascinating to see how modern installation artist Heike Weber has appropriated the carpet into his work.
Is it possible even to step on his carpets? Is it a carpet? I’m not sure. This is one purpose of the artist – to make us reconsider the obvious. His work readily evokes the network of meaning associated with Persian carpets, such as craftsmanship, wealth, nobility, splendor, and time. It is extremely time consuming to weave a carpet, and no doubt, it was extremely time consuming to create a silicon skeleton of a carpet. The difference is, when the show is over, Weber’s carpet is gone as if it never existed. It now lives as a picture on the internet, the most ephemeral space of all.
The artist group “We Make Carpets” similarly play with our preconceptions of durability and utility by creating unlikely carpets out of the mundane and forgotten, such as leftover staples and matches found in their kitchen drawers.
My personal favorite is their absolutely absurd Pasta Carpet.
Through juxtaposing the symbolic nature of the Persian Carpet with the fleeting beauty of the carefully and temporarily placed silicone or pasta, we are reminded of our own ongoing dance with the past and future, and politely asked to take a moment to be in the present.
By Aelfie Starr-Tuff
This blog was published by: Nazmiyal Antique Oriental Rugs