“What is the relationship between knowledge and culture?”
June 2, 2021
Object 1: TULIPS AS A GIFT
These red tulips are a gift from my father to my mother. As a sign of love, he gave them to her, because in European culture people give flowers to portray emotions. He bought them on the first weekend in March, to make my mother happy and to use it as a decoration. The idea of using tulips as a decorative element is very common, especially during Easter. Traditionally in Czech Republic people decorate their homes in Easter spirit to welcome spring as they see it as new beginning.
One way in which these tulips enrich the exhibition is the absence of cultural purpose from this act. My dad’s act doesn’t come from cultural traditions. In our culture, flowers were not given to people on day-to-day bases. They were only given if there was an important event, such as a wedding. As people nowadays buy flowers for more casual reasons, we don’t perceive it as majestically anymore. It is therefore debatable if all acts are worth enough to cause the death to the flowers. One claims, robbing our nature and killing flowers is unnecessary. This could be refuted by the fact that cultural purposes are simply reasonable enough to do so.
Another way in which these tulips contribute to this exhibition is that gifting flowers differentiates based on culture and on the type of the flower. For instance, in China white flowers are only used for funerals. Conversely in Russia white flowers can be given to anyone. However, our knowledge tells us that a flower is like any other flower, so the colour should not determine anything as the act of giving it to someone is more important.
Object 2: HEMATITE HEART NECKLACE
This heart necklace made from crystal called “hematite” was a gift from my mother to me. Together we chose that the heart will be made of this crystal. We based our decision on the seller’s knowledge about Hematite’s function. Hematite is a natural form of iron and a representative of protective amulets. This is because of its ‘mirror’ surface that is supposed to divert any negativity targeting the wearer. Without any proof of the crystal actually having this power, we chose to believe the seller. Same as with the website, I used to reinsure that the function of the crystal is correct, there isn’t a way how to prove its reliability, yet we still choose to believe in it.
This necklace enriches this exhibition because, although I cannot scientifically prove the hematite actually works, I still believe in it because I believe in its history and the strong connection it has to European culture. Hematite was admired by ancient Greeks as they associated iron with the god of war. Before battle, Greek soldiers rubbed their bodies with hematite to make themselves invulnerable. This represents how, no matter developed we are, there are still people, like Chinese shamans, that continue believing in these scientifically inexplicable objects because their culture is stronger and more reasonable to them then the knowledge of the current world.
This necklace also enriches this exhibition because although my mum doesn’t believe in the power it has, she still contributed to the process of decision making. She decided to make it from Hematite only because it sounds nice, but her knowledge tells her that such super naturality is dysfunctional and only delusion from the past. This shows how people may not believe in the cultural significance it has yet are still able to appreciate it and are willing to buy it. They buy it because of the legend behind it than the actual belief that it works.
Object 3: SANITARY BIN
This sanitary bin is in every bathroom in our school for girls to throw their used sanitary products. Made of plastic, it has a motion sensor, so the user doesn’t have to touch the bin as it automatically opens. They were invented approximately in 1955 because before females would flush their waste, hide it behind the toilets or kept it and carry around which was very unsanitary. It is a UK regulation to have in public bathrooms, but it’s not like that everywhere and in some countries the usage is even abandoned.
This bin contributes to this exhibition because not everywhere women are allowed or able to use it. In North Korea’s countryside people are not allowed to use any type of one-time product, including sanitary products. For this reason, women reuse old clothes or blankets. For many countries this is normal. In some parts of Nepal, the situation is even as they have a tradition called “Chhaupadi” when a menstruating woman is required to stay in a shed, outside the family home, as she’s perceived as cursed and untouchable. Although it is culturally normalised, it causes serious implications on women’s health and freedom which causes death of many females.
This bin also enriches this exhibition because its absence is caused by the government that is ruled my males and is harmful to women. In majority of cultures, men are perceived as the leaders and women as the followers, but as we evolve, we become more aware that everyone should have equal rights. Therefore, men should not be perceived as the only leaders, as they cannot understand the problems that other sex must endure. Having the knowledge of human rights, women have the rights to have the access to it and protect themselves from bacteria and illnesses.
Tulips- FTD FRESH. “The Meaning of Gifting Flowers in Every Culture.” February 26,
Necklace- Gruben Michelle. “Gemstones and their meanings: 40 stones for magick and meditation.” February 16, 2018. https://www.groveandgrotto.com/blogs/articles/gemstones- and-their-meanings
Scialla Janelle. “A Brief History of Crystals and Healing.” N.d.
Bin- Citron Hygiene. “A History of UK Sanitary Bins & How Sanitary Bin Services Have.” N.d. https://www.citronhygiene.co.uk/support/knowledge-centre/history-uk-sanitary-bins- how-sanitary-bin-services-have-changed
Yeomi Park, Voice of North Korea by. “Top 6 Things You Cannot Buy In North Korea.” Youtube video, 12:51. October 22, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1isUaa3- 00&t=686s
Coulthard Katie. “WHY SOME WOMEN ARE DYING FOR GETTING THEIR PERIOD”. January 20, 2020. https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/why-some-women-are-dying-for- getting-their-period