Ringo’s Repatriation Appeal

January 7, 2015

The work in the Penn Museum Archives never ends. The backlog resists attempts at taming it. The archives is happy to have a number of interns and volunteers who are willing to help organize, catalog, and preserve the documents, drawings, and photographs in the collections. Alyssa Velazquez is one such intern, who is presently reorganizing the storage of the old glass plate negatives. The Museum has at least 30,000 glass plates, in sizes ranging from 3×4 inches to 11×14 inches. Many of these were originally transported into the field, were shot and developed there, and were then brought back to the Museum. Others were taken in the Museum’s photo studio, which was established by at least 1902. The Adventures of Ringo and Sobek is a social science satire centered around the Museum’s old records, surroundings, and areas of study.

In The Continuing Adventures of Ringo and Sobek:

to my dear human resource, it is I, Ringo.
pardon if I misplace word or meaning. this type writer is foreign to me.
and these written words though well intended may come off mal-informed and riddled with sentimentality.

I previously wrote to maintenance in regards to a hole that leaks upon the top shelf.
Sobek is highly sensitive. exposure to natural elements is inadvisable.
When the issue was not attended to – I took it on myself –
a construction project that was coming along quite nicely. until disgruntled voices started to come from below.
Voices once unheard began to harass and audibly assault
I invited these invasive sounds to meet Sobek and me, so as to instate peace.
yet they refused to budge. fearing Sobek’s temperament I took my grievance to them, these ground floor tenants.

their tags labeled them as lot 770. What a lot they were.
Salutations neighbors say I
Why came you? said one
Because of the noise was my reply
Yes, said a third. you make and take up clatter.
Your voices have made it difficult to continue building, I retorted.
Building? What are you building? cried the one on the end.
I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in. which is a fact.
you, invasive pest, did not ask stated the third to last
I questioned them: why should I ask?
Building what you please is not permissible snapped one of the first. Especially when you decide to build above us. there is an order. there are rules.
continual conferences with these chiefs of power have been overshadowed with tradition and ethics. they have failed to offer up any proof of shelving patriarchy nor have they complied to any of my personally drafted spatial acts.

My humans. please.
I have tried to reason. but there is no reason to be had.
you must deal with these dictators.
this federally empowered clan that has taken to chanting:
where I belong I’m right.
associated or unassociated, you as human resources must take control.
is my right to pursuit of survival to be drowned out because of a rusted archaic infrastructure?
one of which neither Sobek nor I asked to be housed on, when neighbored with chipped cultural items.
I offer condolences to their ancestors
yet I question our shared future.
Partners? enemies? Neighbors?
What can we be?

as I attempt to simply salvage Sobek, as well as my own, dignity
I am being wrongfully accused of colonialism though I know of no such fraternity at this museum
it is my continual failure with these tribal-antes that has forced me to accept that you are the only individuals with the power to solve this tryst.
when you speak to them, you may refer to my documented complaint,
perhaps my written words will lead to some success.