"Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing" opens at Turner Contemporary
- MARGATE.- Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing is a startling exhibition that moves wittily, sometimes mysteriously, between contemporary art, anatomy, Old Master drawings, the history of criminology, Cold War secrets, the origins of museums and voyeurism in everyday life. Taking as a starting point the cabinets of curiosities that flourished throughout Europe in the 17th century, Curiosity is a detailed and spectacular meditation on the nature of wonder, fascination and inquiry. Turner Contemporary architect David Chipperfield conceived the design for the exhibition’s initial showing in Margate, and Curiosity is set to tour to Norwich and Amsterdam.
Like its ancestor the Wunderkammer, this exhibition happily juxtaposes past and present, to create a picture of knowledge and invention that is encyclopedic but highly eccentric. Contemporary works include Nina Katchadourian’s sly and hilarious photographs made on long-haul flights: the artist disappears into the aircraft toilet and, using materials to hand, photographs herself in the costumes and poses of seventeenth-century Flemish portraiture. Back in her seat, she composes landscapes and animal studies out of in-flight magazines and meals. Attention and concentration are recurrent themes of the exhibition: under hypnosis, Matt Mullican videos himself becoming deeply interested in his own shoe and other objects. Tacita Dean films the artist Claes Oldenburg in his studio as he cleans the objects on his bookshelves. Katie Paterson invites us to pore over identical images of darkness sourced from observatories all around the world, and prepares a fragment of meteorite that will be taken into orbit by the European Space Agency in 2014, becoming the subject of live webcast lessons in astrophysics. Gerard Byrne films and photographs the territory around Loch Ness, and produces a compelling map of the frontiers between art, science and fantasy.
[....]Historical artefacts include: the mineral collection of Roger Caillois from the Natural History Museum in Paris, a scrying mirror and crystal reputed to have belonged to John Dee, a cabinet bought the diarist John Evelyn by his wife in 1652, ivory anatomical models from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Robert Hooke’s Micrographia with its startlingly detailed illustration of a flea, and a penguin collected by Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition.
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