Museums are odd spaces, if you stop to think about it. Objects enclosed in glass boxes, protected from the touch, sound and breath of the general populace. We can see them, carefully presented in a dimmed artificial light, but these objects are now immune to human life – often the very thing that brought them into being in the beginning.
The continued existential question of our kind – who are we? why are we here? – is why such spaces exist. Why objects are presented, stripped bare from their original maker (except maybe recent history) and allowed to coalesce with our own consciousness. Campaigns such as Fashion Revolution day hint that this is a cultural model – a removal of the very hands that created something, to sell us an idea of who we are. An idea we piece together from the fragments we’ve absorbed before. Is authorship even valuable, when we feverishly impose our own meaning onto something anyway?
Stripped bare of context, the objects in glass boxes become an exercise in aesthetics. A mummified cat, sacred from what I know of Ancient Egypt, becomes reduced to a reminder of basket weave patterns. I might muse about the time/skill that went in or the beliefs of the people who made it, but as a product of this civilisation, museums can become nothing more than “inspiration” – a search for an idea to merge with my collected consciousness, and trigger the creation of something that I can embed with meaning. Potential is everywhere and over-abundance seems inevitable.
Museums are odd spaces, but I enjoy them anyway. I like the sense of stillness and the concrete answers they (try to) present, as a form of refuge from my own questioning mind. They are places where history is fixed; in everything but the stories we go on to tell.
Ancient Egypt & Ancient Greece
At the British Museum, London