Philosopher Blaise Pascal said, in paraphrase, that the trouble of humanity stems from the unwillingness of men to sit alone in their rooms. Pondering the sentiment in light of COVID-19 and the protests currently lead by men (mostly) who would rather spread the disease than remain in their rooms, Pascal had a point.
Nevertheless, I would think just about everybody around the world are sick and tired of their own homes by now. Some are well into their second month of quarantine and the couch that used to hold out such irresistible promises of relaxation has probably turned into an object of resent a long time ago. Avenues of escape are welcome, even if they are only for the mind. We can look to some literary classics that offer methods on how to cope with enforced isolation. Xavier De Maistre´s Voyage Around My Room is one. The 18th century book is a splendid and eccentric manual on how to entertain oneself while being spatially restricted. Written under house arrest for unlawful duelling, the author uses his time to travel by means of his imagination and memories. He uses the objects around him to do so. He studies them and pays them more attention than he usually does, and in the process he is transported by them.
It’s obvious De Maistre wrote before the internet. Had he had access to the overabundance of information and entertainment we have now he would hardly have thought it necessary to use his imagination to pass the time. Besides, De Maistre was only under house arrest for six weeks and most of us have already been quarantined longer than that. Many have likely experienced that voyaging around your own room gets real tiresome after a while. There is, however, another upside to the culture of stay-at-home and that is the fact that others are staying at home as well. Even celebrities. It is a well known fact that celebrities want to be seen which means that they have to allow cameras into their own homes. Lucky for us that we now have an opportunity to voyage around celebrities rooms. Some clever TV hosts have turned the current limitations to their advantage and devised ways to stay on air by transmitting directly from their own homes. I for one must admit to enjoying getting to peak inside the homes of the likes of Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brian, If only for the opportunity to voyage around some one else’s rooms for a while.
For similarly escapist reasons, it was a real joy to come across a photo diary on Vogue’s website featuring Kiowa jeweller Keri Ataumbi in her beautiful New Mexico home. It was through reading the piece that Xavier De Maistre’s book came to mind, because by means of the article’s photos and the writing it feels like we are being treated to a proper voyage around her living space. The layout of the piece is designed like a trajectory or journey through Ataumbi’s house, starting with the exterior of her house and moving through her spa, garden, studio and patio.
At Kiva Gallery we are great admirers of Ataumbi’s jewellery which is why it was of special interest to get a peak inside her studio. Getting to virtually visit Ataumbi’s beautiful Santa Fe home was a most welcome voyage considering that this is the time of year that we usually start planning our yearly trip to the area. This year it looks like we will have to content ourselves with voyaging around other peoples rooms, while staying put in our own.