Museums Sheffield is hosting a major new collaborative project by Tim Etchells and Vlatka Horvat. From 8 February – 7 May 2017, at the Millennium Gallery, What Can Be Seen will present a bold, playful reimagining of the city’s historic museum collections alongside new work by the artists, produced especially for the exhibition.
What Can Be Seen draws from the city’s diverse collections to explore how we attempt to understand the world through history, science, art, narrative and the act of collecting itself. By presenting unexpected groupings of objects from across the city’s collections, alongside fascinating series of similar items and drawings, as well as behind-the-scenes images taken in the museums store, Etchells and Horvat explore new relationships between otherwise unrelated subjects and areas of inquiry.
Visitors to What Can Be Seen will encounter a wealth of objects, specimens and images from archaeology, natural sciences, decorative art, visual art and social history, including pocket watches, biological specimens and Egyptian artefacts, as well as weather data charts, early 20th century puppets and a set of empty picture frames from which the paintings have been removed for conservation. Idiosyncratic and surprising, Etchells and Horvat’s project zooms in again and again on the act of care, observation and study by curators, scientists, artists and others as they try to understand, record and communicate the world we live in.
The exhibition also includes two new series of photographic works produced by Etchells and Horvat, titled No Contextual Information and Card Index (Details) (both 2017). Images comprising these series bring to the foreground the “hidden” processes and systems used by the institution and its curators as they engage in the collecting, cataloging and keeping track of objects in their care.