Wunderkammer Road Trip: Proposal

Based on my experiences and encounters from our voyage of discovery we were required to make a proposal for a project. This project could have had a range of ambitions, including an intervention within a collection or even a representation, a proposition to reorder an existing collection in order to subvert or expose a different reading other than that which the existing curation may infer, something like Ryan Gander and his Night in the Museum did. I decided to do a response, on its broadest sense of ideas and encounters I have experienced within the past two weeks of travelling and to create a tool which would enable the viewer to interact within a specific collect, gallery or space using their sound sence which originated from my collection or perhaps a tool which lets artists and even curators to experience space, for which they may as well respond.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.31The majority of museums, visitors can only experience the artworks by viewing them. Looking at the five senses, (sight, touch, taste, smell, sound) sight is the first we think about. We are constantly bombarded with imagery, and me personally loving to snap photos of everywhere we go, there is a loss of sense in relation to the physical world. We are so far into this century into virtual reality where everyone reads images through the virtual. It’s one of the big problems that art confronts now, in fact we probably all confront. The virtual denies tactility, it denies your physical presence in relation to something other than a lighted screen. The nature of art has given way to photographs and images and we receive information through images and we don’t receive art through our total senses in term of walking, looking, experiencing, touching and feeling and that’s has kind of been lost.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.35We have the urge to being up close, reading labels but how do we record and retain that information? We can all visually make drawings, take notes, snap photos, and photography is something that intrigues me. The no photography policy in  Sir John Soane’s Museum and the Hunterian Museum, which for ethics reasons is not allowed, I wonder if perhaps it detaches us from the whole experience from an institution. on the contrary it makes us stop, go slower, read more and appreciate more, by using our senses more which we are usually unaware, but then again,  do our memories retain in the future when looking back?Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.37As makers we tend to like to touch stuff (alot). This introduces a whole new experience as we wonder how stuff is made, pondering its tactility, but then there is a compromise, fragility. Things obviously can’t all be touched, preservation from the institutions behalf is essential and although some institutions have some handling sessions, they have the constant struggle to bring innovation to museums and gather bigger audiences to their institutions.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.39Something we know for sure is that the public loves interaction, and that is affected by their senses which will probably trigger memories and possibly attract wider audiences, therefore something that plays a big roll on my proposal.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.41You would think that taste is an unusual sence to experience within a museum, but far from it. Taking the incredible collection by the fabulous Marek Liska as an example, he began to make connections between the relationship of cafes and their institutions and how they can evoke memories, linking taste to time and to space.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.42Taking another example of a unusal sense to experience within an institution is smell. Not being able to take any photos at Soanes, that digital memory is taken away from us, without us being able to refer to it. However, things like the perfumed installation by food historian Tasha Marks, Scent Chambers is a piece which recreates smells from the Georgian kitchen, this is such a power tools which not only evokes memories from the Soanes itself but from a different era, from a different time and place.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.44When it comes to visually impaired people who tend to navigate through sound and touch, and museums face a new challenge. However, at The Wellcome Collection, a medical institution has cleaver interactions for blind people, by using sound outputs through out and braille labels which of course includes a wider audience into their facilities.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.47.pngMarcel Duchamp once said that the work of art was completed by the viewer. When sound is involved there is an additional bodily element to this, the perceptions the visitor brings with them will completely, alter the work.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.50Taking my collection as inspiration, it evokes memories, especially for the people who went to the Wunderkammer road trip, and although photographs can have the same effect, with sounds there is a surprise element, not knowing where you are, but swiftly we are confronted with a squeaking wheelchair or coffee machines frothing away or even Marek and Morgan moaning to indulge on some cake.Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 22.46.51.pngLooking at sonic arts, my proposal is to have a multi-purpose audio tool where sound can guide you through the museum not in a literal way. An experiment to see how much of an effect sound plays with our memories and retain information.

It will be set in a completely dark place, however visual work is still present in the space. and why take one of the most important sence? This of course will make our other senses more alert. Often we don’t really know whats real and whats not, just because a label says so. Taking the Davies sisters as an example, among their collection they seven oil paintings that had been bought as Turners.Three of these were subsequently judged to be fake and withdrawn from display. These works were re-examined by the BBC TV programme, Fake or Fortune where they were reinstated as genuine Turners.

In addition there is always a hype around names and labels and looking at the famous Mona Lisa which is possibly the most wellknown painting in the world, often disappoints viewers by its minute size and the shere amount of tourists around her, often lets views a bit more than disappointed.  Therefore, having vision taken away from the audience and not really telling them who’s work is being exhibited is crucial.

As a multi purpose audio tool not only will you be able to experience the institution physically but it will be an immersive way of responding to a place without being physically in the space. Without that visual aide artists are able to produce work for a commission in response to the sound alone and in a way it is a rhizome way of working. Would it work? It is a good questions, but you could test it out for yourself for a mere £9.99 if you order today.L9473661



Wunderkammer Road Trip: Tutorial with Craig Thomas

Following Craig Thomas’ group tutorial, I was guided to look into sonic arts. It was pointed out to look at Haroon Mirza work, including his exhibition back in 2012 at Spike Island, Bristol.

Haroon Mirza has established a distinct body of work that fuses sound and image into a complex sensory experience. At Spike Island he presented a group of individual works, each an assemblage of separate components that synthesise light, sound and movement. These were orchestrated to form an aesthetic whole, building and looping across the gallery space to create an immersive experience that refuted the galleries’ privileging of the visual.

In addition, some other artists which work with notions of perspective and how we see things around us has been discussed. Tatzu Nishi, has created unconventional, site-specific public art projects around the world, transforming historical monuments by placing them in domestic settings. His works remove traditional statues from their everyday contexts to create surprising, intimate encounters with familiar monuments, making them accessible to the public in new ways. Guatemala Art Biennial

Mary Miss has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design, and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time.  She has developed a framework for making issues of sustainability tangible through collaboration and the arts. Trained as a sculptor, her work creates situations emphasizing a site’s history, its ecology, or aspects of the environment that have gone unnoticed. Similar themes to Tatzu Nishi as how framing can bring different contexts to a specific elements within public spheres.5batterypark21973-850x563.jpgFinally, Richard Serra often constructs site-specific installations, frequently on a scale that dwarfs the observer. His site-specific works challenge viewers’ perception of their bodies in relation to interior spaces and landscapes, and his work often encourages movement in and around his sculptures.

“Time and movement became really crucial to how I deal with what I deal with, not only sight and boundary but how one walks through a piece and what one feels and registers in terms of one’s own body in relation to another body.”

-Richard Serra

Wunderkammer Road Trip: Collection

During our two weeks of travel we were asked to make a collection to curate and present to the rest of the group. This could have been the notion of collections in the broadest sense, artefacts and or images, however I decided to collect sound bites with my phone throughout the different institutions, conversations people had, events and the unexpected.

We are constantly bombarded with imagery, and me personally loving to snap photos of everywhere we go, there is a loss of sense in relation to the physical world. We are so far into this century into virtual reality where everyone reads images through the virtual. It’s one of the big problems that art confronts now, in fact we probably all confront. The virtual denies tactility, it denies your physical presence in relation to something other than a lighted screen. The nature of art has given way to photographs and images and we receive information through images and we don’t receive art through our total senses in term of walking, looking, experiencing, touching and feeling and that’s has kind of been lost.

My collection evokes memories, especially for the people who went to the Wunderkammer road trip, and although photographs can have the same effect, with sounds there is a surprise element, not knowing where you are, but swifly we are confronted with a squeaking wheelchair or coffee machines frothing away and even the noisy kids at the Staffordshire Hoard gallery at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.


Wunderkammer Road Trip: Birmingham, Yorkshire & Manchester

img_9125Second and final Wunderkammer road trip this week going up North through Birmingham, Yorkshire and Manchester. Our first stop on the map was Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery which was the only institution we visited in Birmingham.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery first opened in 1885. It houses 40 galleries to explore that display art, applied art, social history, archaeology and ethnography including the largest public Pre-Raphaelite collection in the world.

We began our exploration in the Industrial Gallery,  a focal point of interest and a snippet of the institution as a whole. The individual cabinets reinforce the gallery’s bold vision, “By the gains of Industry we promote art”, and powered by the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris, who both had a huge influence on the artistic life of Birmingham. This vision was not simply to cultivate the aesthetic sensibilities of the working classes, but also to “make social relations and industrial design more harmonious”. If the founding of the National Gallery in London issued in the “institutionalisation of the arts”, this was intended to give art back to the people again. But this time it would be accessible not simply to the rich, who had previously been able to collect and display it for their private pleasure, but to the lower orders, to the benefit of society as a whole.

I was particularly interest in the curation of “Night in the Museum” by leading British artist Ryan Gander. As an artist, Gander is known for avoiding a recognisable style, preferring to work with many different materials to explore new approaches to art. For “Night in the Museum”, Gander has positioned a range of figurative sculptures so that they can gaze at artworks featuring the colour blue, a colour which is important in Gander’s work, and which for him represents the abstract ideas often found in modern and contemporary art. The figures contemplate a wide selection of post-war British art encompassing different styles and periods. In presenting works in this unusual way, Gander disrupts the role of the curator as a mediator between art and the public. He invites us to look beyond traditional themes and histories and to consider new narratives and relationships.

In a conceptual way, the two works become a single work. So, each pairing, when you look at them, you don’t look at the pairs individually anymore. They become a work of two parts, by two artists, by this forced proximity. It’s funny, the artist has their own themes and perspectives in the construction of the work, but when you put them together, they still have those themes and perspectives that the artist originally intended for them, but they take on another meaning in their pairings.

‘When I look at sculptures of the human figure I am frequently left thinking of all the things that they’ve seen. This is the world of the silent onlooker.’

Ryan Gander

img_9347Leaving the amazing hostel in Peak District nice and early and heading for another day of exploration and wonder. We stopped at The Hepworth Wakefield, an art gallery designed by British architect David Chipperfield inaugurated in 2011 making it the most modern institution we visited. Saying that, from its foundation in 1923, the original Wakefield Art Gallery adopted an ambitious collecting policy with a core aim to nurture an understanding of contemporary art. The art collection consists of over 5,000 works which includes a significant group of work by modern British artists, most notably, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore who were both born in the Wakefield district.

The Hepworth Family Gift is central to the gallery’s permanent collection and the purpose-built spaces offer a full exploration of the prototypes for the first time. Coming directly from the Barbara Hepworth Estate, the Gift illuminates the artist’s working methods and creativity. Consisting  of a range of full size working models, including some surviving prototypes in plaster and aluminium made in preparation for the works in bronze Hepworth executed from the mid-1950s to the end of her career. It also includes drawings and a large group of lithographs and screen prints by Barbara Hepworth.

Provocative propositions when it comes to placement of work, specially when it comes to sculpture. Although a massive gallery space, the work is a bit cramped in such location as if in contrast it was placed on an outdoor setting, however the main purpose of this curation is for mere education by showing archived films, tools and materials  within their social, political and working contexts.

In addition, we looked at the exhibition by the four artists shortlisted for the Hepworth Prize for Sculpture – Phyllida Barlow, Steven Claydon, Helen Marten and David Medalla. An art prize which aims to demystify contemporary sculpture, which Helen Martenand also elected for the Turner Prize won.

“The artist has a responsibility to communicate in a way that is egalitarian in a world that is increasingly hermetic – but that’s also the job of the institution and the curator. I love talking about my work – but I don’t want to do it in a forum that is a corrupted, dumbed-down version of my words. No one wants to be paraphrased to sound like an idiot because that’s accessible.”

Helen Marten

Kettle’s Yard at the Hepwroth is a display that brings together over 100 works of art, ceramics, furniture and objects from Kettle’s Yard which was both a home to Jim Ede and a place in which housed one of the UK’s most significant collections of modern British and international art.

Dialogues about the relationship between art and the home, architecture and design are raised and these debates were also explored at the Wakefield Art Gallery, which was originally housed in two terraces in the city centre.Similarly to Kettle’s Yard, the majority of works in the Wakefield permanent art collection are domestic in scale and were acquired from contemporary artists, many of whom developed ongoing relationships with the gallery.

Artist Anthea Hamilton has created an installation made in response to the House and its collections. The careful arrangement of art and objects at Kettle’sYard by Jim Ede resonates with Hamilton’s own interests in the choreographing of space and objects. Her installations often resemble stage sets that engage visitors with imagined narratives incorporating references drawn from worlds of art, fashion, design and cinema.

img_9338Only 20 minutes away we stopped at  Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Being our second time this academic year, it definitely was a much better experience as the weather was great and we had a bit more time to explore the park which with a better understanding of it’s main purposes in terms of curation and their connotations.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park seeks to provide a centre of international, national and regional importance for the production, exhibition and appreciation of modern and contemporary sculpture. Many inspirational elements combine here to create a unique and exceptional balance of art, heritage, learning, space and landscape.

Beyond Boundaries: Art By Email, responding to an open call, artists across the Middle East and North Africa submitted artwork via email for inclusion in the exhibition. The artists were given the brief to not only share the realities of current situations in various countries such as Iran and Iraq but also the resilience, hope and creativity that thrives throughout the region, often despite the circumstances.

An abstract sculpture by the Iranian artist Sahand Hesamiyan, the instructions for which were submitted via email, were 3D printed during the exhibition. Interesting concepts which have been explored as well by our FabLab team.

James Turrell has created the skyspace within an 18th century Grade II listed building. Deer Shelter Skyspace does not disturb the tranquility of the site, but creates a place of contemplation and revelation, harnessing the changing light of the Yorkshire sky. The skyspace consists of a large square chamber with an aperture cut into the roof. Through this aperture the visitor is offered a heightened vision of the sky.img_9508Final day of our trip and we headed to Manchester. First stop being Manchester Museum, a museum displaying works of archaeology, anthropology and natural history and is owned by the University of Manchester. Sited at the heart of the university’s group of neo-Gothic buildings, it provides access to about 4.5 million items from every continent. It is the UK’s largest university museum and serves both as a major visitor attraction and as a resource for academic research and teaching.

img_9620Moving into the much-anticipated Whitworth Art Gallery was such a pleasant surprise. Often museum reflect upon the times and historical context of their cities, however, the Whitworth felt much alleviated from that. Not being bombarded by artefacts after artefacts. With the contemporary expansion just in 2015 this institution has a modern aesthetic which focuses on modern artists but also houses a notable collection of watercolours, sculptures, wallpapers and textiles. img_9513img_9567
A glimpse of the people behind the collections, the artists, collectors and individuals who shaped the Whitworth its an intriguing curation of portraits which then, is a portrait overall. Like many of the artworks on display, it is a sketch of a particular moment, from a particular perspective. It is an intimate picture that hints at the complexity of its subject.

Andy Warhol shows the sharp critical opinions of an artist known to many primarily as art salesman, purveyor of product and celebrant of capitalism. Focusing on themes of death, politics and identity it presents audiences with Warhol’s reading of the American Dream at a time when the country is under continued scrutiny following the 2016 US Presidential election.

img_9617Final stop of our adventure was the Manchester Art Gallery. With a combination of contemporary and historical work blended together fitted within their contexts, reflecting the landscapes, its times, social, economical, cultural and political identity for which Manchester is portrayed.img_9631

I was especially intrigued by the photography exhibition curated by the iconic British photographer Martin Parr, Strange and Familiar which considers how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural and political identity of the UK. Especially in reflection to Brexit and pondering how British culture is portrayed from an outsider and if that has an effect with its identity.

From social documentary and portraiture to street and architectural photography, the exhibition celebrates the work of leading photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rineke Dijkstra, and Garry Winogrand. Bringing together over 250 compelling photographs and previously unseen bodies of work, Strange and Familiar presents a vibrant portrait of modern Britain.

Can’t believe how fast these two weeks has gone but it has been such a valuable experience. It was a great opportunity to engage with and reflect upon my engagement and encounters with artifacts, their curation and the contexts that I experienced within these institutions. I will be taking a little break from visiting museums for a while. Joking aside, with such an immersive experience it can be at time overwhelming however, it has taught me how to come abouts to explore museums and galleries. Some key aspects surrounding how objects and work is currated has been playing around my head and these aspects are at the core of how I view, create and curate work of my own.