Tinplate and gilt


The author is the owner of a dilapidated summer cottage on a small island in the Adriatic. This inheritance from a distant relative included the accompanying goods and chattels – the collected clutter of several generations. We did not dispose of this junk immediately, but inspected and assessed it, with a loving eye for detail: a fatal mistake. Inspection and assessment turned the “junk” into traces of life, relics bearing witness to an eventful family history that could no longer be “disposed of”. The piece of land and the structure that occupied it became a place of remembrance that resists demolition and hampers renovation. In a sense we inherited the hoarding syndrome of aunt S. (1918-1996), the last inhabitant of the house, albeit not to the same pathological degree. For S., not a single woodworm-infested piece of furniture could be disposed of, not a kitchen utensil replaced, not a document in the art nouveau bureau touched. But it was these documents that finally revealed the reason for her hoarding. Expropriation Decree No. 3723/45, dated 8.1.1946, lists familiar objects: furniture (“cloth armchairs, 3 pieces at 150.-“), crockery (“bowl, porcelain, with lid, 1 piece, 90.-“), clothes, (“women’s hats, with boxes, 12 pieces at 20.-“, the toys (“Children’s iron, 1 piece, 10.-“), utensils (“bread basket, basketweave, 1 piece, 10.-“), books (“Skiing, with a postscript by the Ustasha Youth”). Of the 335 items listed, only six are included in the final Court Decree No. 3723/45-4 dated 26.1.1946: 1) three men’s nightshirts, 2) light summer coat, 3) short underpants, 4) razor strop, 5) walking stick, 6) old shoes (men’s).

more from Svjetlan Lacko Vidulic at Eurozine here.