text + illustration

text and illustration were published in Through Objects: Nature Back To Design, ed. Rita Trinidad,
New Heroes & Pioneers, Malmö, 2020

As a small child, barely able to walk or speak, I used to call pebbles eggs. A holiday walk by the seaside was full of loud and astonished egg exclamation accompanied by a little finger pointing to wet pebbles. When I think about it now, there is, indeed, some connection between the two: the ovoid, soft shape, grayish color, and rough, but very pleasant-to-touch, texture. Both pebbles and eggs are very primal creations of nature but I’m not sure if I understood that particular issue back then on the beach.

And here I am, more than twenty years later, standing in front of the shelf in a secondhand shop staring at an ambiguous thing with a questionable function, positioned somewhere between teapots and glass vases — a pebble-egg. To be more specific, a dozen of them placed in a small, ceramic bowl as if they were part of a Sunday breakfast table. At first glance, they look so real that one has the impression that they are actual eggs — all of them white, shaped perfectly ovoid, in a scale of a hen’s egg. Eventually, after all these years, without remorse or embarrassment, I can say egg for a pebble. But as soon as I come closer and grab it in my hand, the object becomes way more confusing: it is curved in white marble, perfectly polished and shiny, which clearly indicates human intervention — it is not an egg anymore, neither is it a pebble. There is a dissonance: the material is so obviously natural, it is heavy and cold, you can see veins of the stone, cracks, little spots — you imagine that inside it is rough, maybe even scratchy and this inside makes you think about the sea, mountains and vast open spaces. And yet the outside doesn’t allow you: consciously shaped and polished, defined by someone, it is slippy, strangely perfect, and, as such, it is no longer an object of nature, but of culture.
I recognized this very special feeling of confusion, or inconsistency, a feeling which I experienced in a museum, standing in front of the baroque still life paintings of Dutch masters: I see juicy lemons and sweet peaches, seafood so tasty that I crave it, even though I don’t necessarily like it, I’ve never seen such a pretty cabbage and only one glance at a vine carafe makes me incredibly thirsty. The light is coming from the side, the way it does during sunset, colors shine in the dark background. This world seems real, I stand there, hypnotized, and yet there comes a moment when I realize that all this is a human creation, although very delusive by being so true. It is a moment when I can’t distinguish a clear border between what is nature and what is culture anymore here.

Pondering, I start to scrabble around in the bowl of pebble-eggs, and on its bottom, I find a gray one, a bit cracked. On my way home, while my new pebble-egg is getting warm in my hand. I realize why it is this particular one that I had taken with me: with its gray color, it is less perfect, somehow more natural than cultural, a white one would be really unbearable. Although I have to admit, that its ideal ovoid shape is really pleasant for my hand.