I have a favourite paperclip. It is this one:
This paperclip lives in Wolverhampton. It lives on the Seventh Floor of the Art School at the University of Wolverhampton to be exact. It lives just below the surface of the floor. I have no idea how long it has lived there for. It is stuck. It is too deeply embedded to be rescued, but not deeply embedded enough to be ignored. It is, to me, a thing of beauty. It is also very sad and lonely. It has no contact with the world except perhaps to see shadows of the people passing above it. It gets stood on occasionally, but I doubt it feels it.
It is stuck. It is in limbo. It is neither use nor rubbish. It is suspended in time. It cannot rot. It cannot age. It is there, just below the surface. What era did it come from? Paperclips have been around for a very long time but this one doesn’t look very old. Was it the 1970s? Or perhaps the 1980s? Or even later? Who dropped it? Was it dropped by one the people painting the floor? Or a passer by? Did it belong to an art student? Or a lecturer? Did it fall from a pile of papers or a pencil case? Was it a new paperclip when it fell? Or had it been doing its job for a while?
It seems to be waiting for the opportunity too be freed. Will it ever be freed? If it is freed, will it simply be binned or will it be returned to work as a paperclip? I suspect the former but I hope for the latter. I don’t like to think of this paperclip waiting to be rescued only to find itself moved from it’s temporary home of just under the floor to the nearest bin. I cannot rescue it. I cannot return it to paperclipdom. I cannot do anything except photograph it in the year 2015.
Perhaps it won’t be rescued for many years. It might remain in stasis for many decades to come. How many generations of art students will tread over it? Will any future famous artists tread over it? Maybe it will die with the building when it is demolished, whenever that happens (not for a long time I hope as I think the Art School in Wolverhampton is a building with much yet to give).
If the paperclip were able to feel, how would it feel about being under the floor? I imagine it is quite content, yet quite unsure of its future. I think on balance I hope it stays there. I don’t want the wrong person to find it and unearth it. I don’t want it to end up in the bin.
I will worry about its future.