"White"-a collector's statement.

Mary-Louise Brown

“And you have read all these books, Monsieur France?” “Not one-tenth of them. I don’t suppose you use your Sèvres china every day?” This famous quip, attributed to Anatole France, appears in the writings of the early 20th century literary figure, Walter Benjamin, a passionate collector of books.

Benjamin writes concerning the collector, “The period, the region, the craftsmanship, the former ownership—for the true collector the whole background of an item adds up to a magic encyclopedia whose quintessence is the fate of his object.” This is as true for the collector of ceramics as it is for the bibliophile.

John Parker’s ceramic objects scattered, grouped, stacked about my home are at once useless and never idle. Bowls, vases, vessels, all destined to remain empty, unused, are never overlooked. They catch and return a glance, a gaze; with their inutility they touch; in their whiteness, their blankness, they expose their limits all the more.

They are something other than the return of modernism’s whiteout, formalism, tabula rasa. They are rather, in their blankness and plenitude, the signal instance of the uncanny in one’s domesticity, the mark of a passion for superfluous things, works of art, wish objects that make collections.

July, 2001