What is it?
“Ennui” (/ˌän-ˈwē/) a popular term in the late 1700s for “the state of not having anything particular to do,” translates in its most simple form as the French word for apathy, boredom or lack of interest in English. Yet the French word remains in use rather than any English translation as ennui comes with a host of subtleties.
When did it all start?
First recorded use: 1732, ennui comes from Old French enui annoyance, from enuier to vex, from Late Latin inodiare to make loathsome. In English the writer Charles Dickens first coined the word Boredom (ennui’s English cousin) in his 1852-novel Bleak House, a satire of the British judicial system.
Where is the Museum?
In Iceland, I saw structures called turf houses, one such building is depicted on the front page of this website. The design is descended from Viking houses made of turf and more recently used for storage over the winter. If such a museum existed, might this lowly entrance to hidden depths below lead to an ideal representation of the entrance to the Museum of Ennui. The “real” museum began with an exhibition at the Husavik Museum in north east Iceland in 2017. In 2018, the museum opened in a micro-space invited by The Shed Collective at ShoeBoxProjects in Los Angeles.
When did is begin?
The idea for a Museum of Ennui came to me in 2016. A Museum of Ennui is an idea. When we think of ennui, we may recall ennui’s destructive or undesirable attributes; languor, dissatisfaction or melancholy which can be debilitating to creative flow. However, ennui also has creative qualities that need to be protected and encouraged, hence a museum to explore it.
Could Ennui become extinct?
In a world where bombarded with non-stop information and the need for excitement– ennui could be threatened. Without the void of ennui’s fertile refuge new ideas could become endangered, regurgitated or stale?
The upside of ennui.
There are qualities to ennui; meditation, detachment, pause and deep thought that provide a fertile and necessary incubation for new ideas, actions and projects that lead to positive actions in the world. Without ennui there maybe no taste for adventure, exploration or innovation.
Who started this?
Artist Martin Cox experienced ennui as a young man and discussed it at length with his friends, they almost died of it. Later, while on an art residency it occurred to him that to best examine this force would be a museum.