What Can Be Seen, 2017
Solo exhibition – a collaboration with Tim Etchells
at Museums Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, curated by Kirstie Hamilton
From the press release:
What Can Be Seen is a collaborative project by Tim Etchells and Vlatka Horvat. The two artists brought together objects, specimens and images from Museums Sheffield’s collections, including; Archaeology, Natural Sciences, Social History, Decorative Arts, Fine Art and The Ruskin Collection, as well as items found in the museum’s archives and store.
The artists take an idiosyncratic look at Museums Sheffield collections, presenting contradictory impressions and versions of the museum. By displaying fascinating artefacts, specimens and drawings that have not been exhibited before alongside objects that are still packed or half-packed in their storage boxes or crates, the artists show us the museum as a playful Wunderkammer, a place of organised knowledge and study, and as a back-room depository of both ordinary and extraordinary things whose role and history are not always fully known.
What Can Be Seen gives a glimpse into the well organised systems and meticulous methodologies that characterise the work of the institution, as well as a taste of its operations and life behind the scenes, with a focus on the work and processes of the curators, on the small glitches in the system and on the missing or ambiguous pieces from the collection. Etchells and Horvat point our attention not just to the thorough and well-ordered knowledge to which the museum aspires, but also to the limits of knowledge and understanding and to the occasional absurdities, gaps in information and small mysteries that are hidden in its stores. From empty frames wrapped in polythene, to statues packed for transportation and images of the museum’s warehouse spaces, the artists contrast the everyday life of objects out-of-sight with their starring role in gallery exhibition.
In What Can Be Seen, Etchells and Horvat focus 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 presents three strands of material:
The exhibition explores new relationships between otherwise unrelated subjects and areas of inquiry, looking at how we attempt to grasp the world through history, science, art, narrative and the act of collecting itself.
Etchells and Horvat have collaborated on several projects before; having produced video works together, as well as creating and performing in several live performance pieces. The artists harbour a close and ongoing dialogue, frequently acting as sounding boards for one another in their individual practices. What Can Be Seen is their first large scale museum-based collaboration.
Supported by Arts Council England.
Works in the show:
Objects, specimens and images from Museums Sheffield’s collections
No Contextual Information, 2017
Giclée prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag
Card Index (Details), 2017
Giclée prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag
Sheffield Telegraph (pdf) – Feb 2017: “Collectors’ Items Seen in New Light.” Feature by Ian Soutar on Tim Etchells & Vlatka Horvat: What Can Be Seen at Museums Sheffield.
The Star (link) – Feb 2017: ‘Spotlight on what lies behind the scenes at city museums.” Feature by Julia Armstrong on Tim Etchells & Vlatka Horvat: What Can Be Seen at Museums Sheffield.
The Guardian (pdf) – Feb 2017: Preview by Skye Sherwin of Tim Etchells & Vlatka Horvat: What Can Be Seen at Museums Sheffield.
Apollo magazine (link) – March 2017: “This Human Act of Paying Attention.” Feature by Katy Barrett on Tim Etchells & Vlatka Horvat: What Can Be Seen at Museums Sheffield.
The Quietus (link) – March 2017: “Slated and Curated.” Review by Sam Gregory of Tim Etchells & Vlatka Horvat: What Can Be Seen at Museums Sheffield.
art daily (link) – Jan 2017. Preview of Tim Etchells & Vlatka Horvat: What Can Be Seen at Museums Sheffield.