Sunday, 12 April 2009

Mythologies exhibition at Haunch of Venison

Just back from another excellent exhibition at the Haunch of Venison which I urge you to see before it closes on 25th April. See all about it here but don't place too much judgement on the images on the website, they have to be seen in the flesh. Also prepare for the ground floor not to grab you so much as further floors and rooms upstairs.

Here are some of the most relevant pictures (for your current stage of the project) I could get from the website, but go and see the whole range in person. It's free to get in!

If you enjoy eccentric and curiosity-laden archaeological and anthropological museums like the Petrie, Sir John Soane's, Pitt Rivers, Hunterian, Horniman , then this exhibition (which is inspired by the previous occupier of the venue, the ethnographic Museum of Mankind), will be of great interest. I personally spent many an hour sketching in that museum which, along with the others above, inspired my thesis on the objectification of the unknown, the urge that discoverers and the resultant hegemonic powers had to categorise and study unfamiliar cultures, sometimes with innocent wonder, and sometimes with much more troubling consequences. This exhibition is a reappraisal of our current world through the eyes of the past. As the exhibition guide says, in "exploring museological strategies such as archiving, display and taxonomy, whilst blurring the boundaries between the parallel universes of art, natural history, ethnography and anthropology, the exhibition aims to re-awaken a sense of wonder. In the last 50 years ethnography has struggled to rid itself of its focus on the strange and mysterious but these are qualities that inspire many contemporary artists. Artists are perhaps today's field researchers, ethnographers and storytellers, offering us ways to explore and interpret the strange phenomena that is contemporary life around the world". 

It uses, as its inspiration, themes which were the titles of exhibitions at the Museum of Mankind, 'Beginnings and Endings', 'Rites and Ritual', 'Religion', 'Magic' and 'Material Culture'. It might relate quite strongly to the work you have been doing in your societies- creating beings, cultures, rituals and behaviours, and artifacts of your societies' cultures.

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