Museum Show (part 1)

Curated by Nav Haq
Arnolfini, Bristol, UK
September 23 — November 18, 2011

Museum of Contemporary African Art (Meschac Gaba), La Boîte-en-Valise (Marcel Duchamp), Museo Aero Solar, Museum of Conceptual Art (Tom Marioni), La Galerie Légitime (Robert Filliou), Schubladenmuseum/Museum of Drawers (Herbert Distel),Museum of Safety Gear for Small Animals (Bill Burns), Davis Lisboa Mini- Museum (Davis Lisboa), Museum of Projective Personality Testing (Sina Najafi & Christopher Turner), Museum of Revolution (Marko Lulic), Intuitive Galerie (François Curlet), Moon Museum (Forrest Myers), Musée d’Art Moderne, Départment des Aigles (Marcel Broodthaers), Museum for Myself (Peter Blake), World Agriculture Museum (Asunción Molinos), Stemhokkenmuseum/Voting Booth Museum (Guillaume Bijl), A History of Art in the Arab World: Part 1_Chapter One. Section 139: The Atlas Group (Walid Raad), Museum of Ordure, Nasubi Gallery (Tsuyoshi Ozawa), Blackout Leica Museum (Sarkis), “I founded a fictitious museum in New York in ’68 and collected 1,000,000 minutes of attention to show” (James Lee Byars), Museum of Failure (Ellen Harvey), From the Freud Museum (Susan Hiller)

One of the most curious tendencies in modern and contemporary art has been that of museums created by artists. Museum Show is a historical survey exhibition – or a “museum of museums” perhaps – displaying a comprehensive selection of these highly idiosyncratic, semi-fictional institutions. Presented at Arnolfini in two chapters, beginning with Part 1 from 24 September – 19 November, it will be the first exhibition to chart this particular tendency in contemporary art.

Museum Show 1 presents museums from across the spectrum of career status, from canonical to emerging, and from around the globe. The exhibition will look at the different interpretations of what a museum can be, whilst charting the methodologies and reasons used by artists for creating their own institutions – ranging historically from critique directed towards institutions of art, to more contemporary examples that focus their attention towards wider social and political realms of cultural hegemony.

The exhibition includes museums that employ a classic ‘museological’ approach, including Marcel Broodthaers’ seminal Musée de l’Art Moderne, Départment des Aigles and the absurdity of Bill Burns’ Museum of Safety Gear for Small Animals, through to broader, more conceptual understandings of a museum infrastructure, such as Tom Marioni’s Museum of Conceptual Art – a functioning bar and an early example of ‘convivial’ artwork in the US, to the abjection of Stuart Brisley’s Museum of Ordure, or the utopia of Museo Aero Solar – a floating museum made of thousands of recycled carrier bags.

Works from the exhibition are also presented at a number of other locations in Bristol. Marko Lulic’s Museum of Revolution is presented at the M Shed across the harbour from Arnolfini, and the World Agriculture Museum is presented at the former Bridewell Police Station. 

Museo Aero Solar, the first “flying museum”, made entirely of used plastic shopping bags, is presented as a mass-participatory event in the Hengrove district of South Bristol on Sunday 9 October.

The Museum of Failure: The Room of Sublime Wallpaper (I), 2008

Angled mirrors hung over newspaper on the back wall of an 8ft x 11 ft. (2.44 x 3.35 m) room reflect the landscape painted on the two side walls. The paintings on the two side walls are imperfect mirror images of each other. The viewer’s reflection only becomes visible upon entering the room.