The Museum of The Innocent Mind (and It’s Visitors)

“Toute pensée émet un coup de dés.” - Stéphane Mallarmé

Let’s take a tour: complete collection of all the paintings from all the world’s museums (for a new museum yet to build, let’s say). To manage the pictorial and material abundance, Bottarelli is employed to portray these meta-collections in single paintings that will then be part of this encyclopaedic enterprise. Imagine this as distant real-world-echo of Warburg’s Bildatlas project. This raises the question of whether this new collection should contain a painting of itself and if this painting should then contain an image of itself, and consequently, if this image then should contain an image of itself … ad infinitum. Despite the pitfalls that such a mise en abyme can imply for the artist’s skills, the construed reflexivity of this fictional meta-museum bears no paradox as in the case of famous Russell’s paradox: Does the set of all sets that are not members of itself contain itself? If it doesn’t, it is a set that does not contain itself and should thereby be an element of itself by definition: a contradiction.
So what? One might take the paintings as a reduced version of this fictional meta-collection. And one might think here of Paul Valéry’s illuminating hint that a principle ‘problem of the museum’ is its visual overflow through the synchronicity of all the presented probes of different genres, styles and (true?) mastery: Beauty doesn’t deserve distraction, but attention and focus. The ethics of the mind have to consider its limited capacity of awareness of the meta-reality.

Dennis Kirchhoff