Monday, 9 March 2015

Magnificent obsessions@ the Barbican

A very fascinating collection from a diverse group of artist.  It was worth coming just to see the small collection from Edmund da Waal and the Hare with the Amber eye.  Superb collection of Netsuke.

However one of the most thought provoking pieces for me, not from content, but by the fact an artist, Dano Wo, bought the life time collection of American kitch and chinese objects by the artist Martin Wong after Wong's death and turned it into a piece of art named I M U U U R 2 (2013) and exhibited it the Guggenhiem.  I have to confess that I was shocked by this because it is someone else's lifetime of effort and interest, presented as an art work by someone else.  This seems strange to me.  

I suppose when you think about a Collection, aren't they a grouping of objects made by other people and presented as the collectors own effort.  Certainly without Wo's intervention this collection of objects would undoubtably been lost forever and we would not get to see the influences the objects had on Martin Wong's work.  Dano Wo has also spent a considerable able amount of time cataloguing this work, but does that make it a piece of art?  This whole discussion leads to Grayson Perry's book, Playing to the Galley and what is art?  Is art what we say it is?  Further reading on this required.

Back to the exhibition itself, I felt some of the collections are a wonder to see,  and for me this is, in no small part, because of the way they are displayed and the singular nature of the collection.  Take the Pae White's collection of printed textiles they have focus and the common link which gives it merit to viewer.  Perhaps because as a viewer you can see a reason for the collection which may feed the work the artist, for others the collection is more obscure, it just looks like a you have walked into a charity shop.  The obsession for collecting was clearly the compulsion to acquire pieces that were liked but put it all together in a pile and it either looks like a cluttered room or junk.  So for me the way the work is displayed is important,  there needs to be a sense of order to see the collection in full.
 Circling back to the collection of Martin Wong, where it has been ordered this works as a collection me, ignoring my misgivings about who has 'presented' this to me.

It would be interesting to listen to the app to see what the artist themselves have to say about their collections, why and whether it has influenced there work.  However, I had trouble connecting to the app.   Will try at home and update post if I have any further thoughts.

Check out the Creative Review comments on this exhibition @

Here is my sketch from the cafe at the Barbican.

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