CABINET OF CURIOSITIES

I explained in class today that I was going to be focusing on Mark Dion’s Cabinet of Curiosities and just looked up more information on what that whole thing is. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a cabinet of curiosities was also called a cabinet of wonder or wunderkrammer. This was a place, or more specifically, a piece of furniture with several different compartments where people would exhibit precious or bizarre objects, artefacts and specimens aka CURIOSITIES. This was developed during the Renaissance among kings and wealthy rulers who used them to show power as well as as resources for research material of scholars and teaching materials. In regards to teaching, these installations were motivated by a kind of encyclopedic ambition; to create miniature versions of the universe, or to depict microcosms of the world. Capturing the world and then displaying it, storing it in nothing bigger than a single room or a piece of furniture, implied making a selection and inevitably reducing reality, the surrounding existent things, to the essential (rather than being exhaustive). During these times people believed that nature unveiled all its beauty, richness and fascinating complexity through its irregularities, anomalies, freaks and monsters, specimens and objects arousing astonishment. They wanted to show the different ways of classification by blurring the frontiers between the spheres of art, nature and science (as Newcomb mentioned in class). 

Mark Dion arranges the objects into nine compartments or collections: The Underworld, The Sea, The Air, The Earth, Humans, Knowledge, Time, Vision and History. The fact that each oh these nine collections is composed of objects coming from different collections of the museum highlights the arbitrary and subjective character of the choices made by the curators when preparing their exhibitions. By making these categories and providing the visitors with “predigested information”, which includes captions, info sheets, audio guides etc, normal museums usually distract the viewers attention away from the objects and dont make them questions anything. IN this case, everything is a curiosity and a constant search for meaning. 

This also made me have an idea that I will make my own cabinet of curiosities for the final project- stay tuned!

 

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