I was recently asked for material about Collected, this is almost all I have..... I conceived and curated Collected, it was coordinated by The Photographers Gallery, London
from the exhibition guide......
On an individual and national scale we are associated with a bewildering array of clothes, tools, art, bibelot, gifts, cuisine, souvenirs, technology and rubbish. Objects are spilling from every shelf, cupboard, display case, vitrine, supermarket, gallery, shop, museum and land-fill site. Societies are collective, we are defined by evolving methods to classify, structure and direct this material avalanche.
The activity of collecting, perfectly plays out the tension between the drive for order and the tendency towards excess and chaos implicit in our material relationships. The collection cuts across all categories of objects, from the almost worthless to the literally priceless. Collected things hold the promise of a coherent space within the profligate material world.
Conventionally, thinking about collections focuses on works of art, specific national collections or the powerful men (sic) who assembled them. The site of collecting is presumed to be the public museum, or a certain class of private household -now bequeathed or bought by the state to become a museum (visit Sir John Soane's House). Museums are the space we have evolved to collect material things. Treasures of all kinds, looted, bought, found or stolen are woven into narratives of possession and belonging. Objects, acquired, classified, catalogued and displayed are used to support images of nationhood, or intense personal obsessions. Obviously, we are increasingly familiar with the idea of the museum as the ultimate destination of all past objects, or at least surviving examples of those things. Recently it would seem, the museum has come to dominates the horizon of every material thing. To achieve museum status -as an object or individual- is to participate in the past of the future.
The exhibition Collected recognizes the museum as the ideal image of the collection, but also explores stores, shops, flea markets and domestic spaces as the sites -amongst others- for engaging in contemporary collecting. Retail culture has exploited our drives to accumulate in series, to complete the set; things are manufactured to be collectable.
At the Photographers Gallery, Christian Boltanski`s, Inventory of a man from Oxford, 1974 makes a collection of one persons belongings through the activity of photography. Both Ming de Nasty and Mo Wilson, have made portraits of local collectors who participated in Wallsall Museums Peoples Shows. Lea Andrews tape slide work, tenderly opens the gap between a personal attachment to belongings, and the distant opinion of 'experts'. Louise Lawler showed a series of photographs that record the relationships of power implicit in the ownership and display of art. James Sillavan turns the obsessive activity of photography into the medium of collecting, developing his own extraordinary typology of things. Fred Wilson exhibited a set of images exploring how museum culture pictures 'the other' in a strange hybrid family album.
Collected slipped out of the Photographers Gallery and wandered through various contemporary sites in central London.
Fred Wilson and Richard Wentworth worked with, and exhibited in the Egyptian department at the British Museum. Andrea Fraser investigated the difference between the Inventory, Bequest and the Collection at the Wallace Collection. Susan Hiller inserted a small obsessive collection within the body of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, Huntarian Museum. Guillame Bijl curated a furniture collection in the vitrines of Habitat's premier store. Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska developed a guide, Browse which linked the British Museum and Selfridges Department store. Paul Smith displayed a selection of his own private collection in his Floral Street shop windows, and Richard Lowe an `Egyptomania' collector opened his astonishing apartment for public tours.
The journal Inventory produced a special Collected themed edition