Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities, were first established in the Renaissance and Baroque. These cabinets were collectors’ rooms in which objects from distant lands (exotica), precious artworks (artificialia), rare phenomena of nature (naturalia), scientific instruments (scientifica), and inexplicable items (mirabilia) were preserved.
In this exhibition, the individual is treated as a Wunderkammer of sorts, and its five traditional categories are transferred to the realm of human existence and redefined as: instincts, simulacra, mind, oddities, and exotica. Such categorization aims to question and broaden the manifold aspects of the present-day notion of self. Wunderkammer objects and contemporary artworks are juxtaposed with each other to reveal striking affinities and contrasts. From wonders of the world to wonders of the self – the show invites viewers to question the notion of the self.
Both the exhibition and the publication accompanying it are the product of a collaboration between the three curators Fanny Nina Borel, Myrto Katsimicha, and Elisabetta Rabajoli, as part of their Master’s degree in ‘Curating the Contemporary’ at London Metropolitan University. The degree is led by Nico de Oliveira, with the Whitechapel Gallery and me Collectors Room/Olbricht Foundation as partners.
Featured artists: Marina Abramović, Eva Aeppli, Barry X Ball, Matthew Barney, Chuck Close, Graham Dolphin, Jan Fabre, Sylvie Fleury, Andreas Golder, Julie Heffernan, Krištof Kintera, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Terence Koh, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Juan Muñoz, Eadweard Muybridge, Tony Oursler, Gerhard Richter, Collier Schorr, Cindy Sherman, Helmut Stallaerts, Otto Steinert, Werner Rohde, Paloma Varga Weisz, and Erwin Wurm.
Credits and Copyrights:
Marina Abramović Self portrait with skull, 2005, Courtesy Marina Abramović and Sean Kelly Gallery New York, Photo Paolo Canevari © Marina Abramović
Matthew Barney, CREMASTER 5: her Giant,1997 © Matthew Barney, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels
Muschelmann, German, 18th century © Kunstkammer Georg Laue, Munich
Terence Koh, Boy by the Roman Sea, 2010, marble, Courtesy of the artist, Photo Valerio Brambilla