Wunderkammer takes its title from the ‘wunderkammers’, or ‘cabinets of curiosities’, which emerged across Europe in the 16th Century – fabulous collections of artifacts, artworks, plant and animal samples created by rich noblemen, those in search of prestige or of knowledge. The images and surviving examples of the wunderkammer still fascinate many today, partly for their juxtaposition of objects that would never be seen side-by-side in a modern museum. The wunderkammer, by displaying Neolithic carvings next to clockwork automata, or narwhal horns alongside stuffed crocodiles, allowed their visitors to discover parallels between otherwise dissimilar objects.
Our Wunderkammer recreates the cabinet of curiosities for today’s audience, as a way of navigating a diversity of artistic practices, wide-ranging in subject matter, in reference points and in approaches.
Wunderkammer contrads the conventions of a contemporary exhibition hang. Taking inspiration from famous images of the cabinets, in which artefacts cover the ceiling and walls, the exhibition created groupings and constellations of disparate artworks and objects. Zita Saffrette’s eerie photograms exposed under moonlight hang together with Alice Eikelpoth’s bold screen-print collages, next to pictures from Tony Blackmore’s experimental run through South London guided only by the ‘lie of the land’, nearby Sasha Bowles’ paintings of ornaments effaced with layers of white wrapping, and Chingya Chen’s wrecked steel globe map of the night sky.
Alongside their work, Wunderkammer also incorporates objects chosen by the artists in the show including well thumbed books of reference, the objects they collect, and pieces of furniture from their studios.
Wunderkammer was curated by Thomas Cuttle.