Free University of Bolzano – Faculty of Design and Art

Curated by
The exhibition

The biography of objects – The concept of the exhibition

Our lives are full of objects, and through many of these objects – who’s recurrence and familiarity causes us to take them for granted – we describe our everyday reality. They bring with themselves a new dimension and clarity to our lives. It is not by accident that we tend to call them “everyday objects”. They define and constitute a great part of our lives, and sometimes they contribute to our transformation – without us even noticing. At the same time they change themselves: they wear out, become old and break. They also relocate and renew themselves along with other objects or activities that were not previously present. Sometimes they may even radically change their basic function. The history and transformation of these objects is not limited to what occurs to them after they entered our lives. Their history, the biography of every single object begins long before, at the moment when a given object is created in a factory, a workshop or a laboratory and is marked by the process of generation that preceded its coming into being. It proceeds through the channels of distribution – be it acquired, donated, stolen or loaned – it begins to contribute to the construction and meaning of our everyday occurrences, in part owing to the vicissitudes that such an object will experience. Sooner or later nearly all of these objects leave their everyday use behind themselves.
That doesn’t mean they cease to exist, at least not immediately: they can undergo a rather long agony that leads them to their end, but it may also lead them into a second life – being improved, recycled, reutilised, and sometimes consecrated in Museums or in the family livingroom glass case. Most everyday objects are taken for granted and we don’t even consider that they have their own biography. They’re there until they break, wear out or get old; and quickly they are gotten rid of without regret or nostalgia. Yet certain objects assume an important place in our lives by connecting with our own biographies, so that we develop a greater interest in them, and become more aware of their transformations, of their future and past. In these cases we often say that we know their stories, yet it rarely happens that we report them, or share them with others.

The book

As a follow-up project to the exhibition, the book “Biography of objects/ Stories of things” has been published by Bruno Mondadori (Milan) in 2009. The book has two chapters. The first chapter, “Biography of objects” contains a series of essays by international sociologists and anthropologists. The second chapter, “Stories of things” describes the biographies that have been published for the exhibition.

Design: Lupo & Burtscher

„Biografie di oggetti / Storie di cose“ on issuu.com
Order the book here: info@lungomare.org

Cover: Storie di cose
Cover: Storie di cose
Selected biographies

Abäke: Campbell’s soup

Abäke: Campbell's soupAbäke: Campbell's soup

Luis Eslava: Doormat “My Fair Lady”


Tal Gur: Fork

tal-gur_edTal Gur – Kibbutz Gilgal: Fork

Peter Marigold: Skeletal Waste

P1020899_edPeter Marigold: Skeletal Waste

Sylvain Willenz: Selene Chair

Sylvain Willenz: Selene ChairSylvain Willenz: Selene Chair

Presentation of the book "Stories of things" at the Buziol Foundation (Venice)

Biography of object – Stories of things
An evening with designer, objects and the interweaving of their lives

Book presentation
Project curated by Angelika Burtscher, Daniele Lupo, Alvise Mattozzi, Paolo Volonté
With speakers, Martino Gamper, Åbäke, Gilberto Penzo, Joe Velvet and Tankboys

Press release: Storie di cose at Fondazione Buziol (in Italian)

Invitation card: Storie di cose, Fondazione Claudio Buziol (front)
Invitation card: Storie di cose, Fondazione Claudio Buziol
Printed matter
More materials
Press reviews
Storie di cose (Opening)
With the support of

Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Faculty of Design and Art
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio
Autonomous Province of Bozen/Bolzano-South Tyrol, Cultures Department