Last week’s task was to go to the National Museum of Cardiff and identify an object to study. Look at how the object it is shown to us through the medium of the museum itself, how they categorise it and what’s the story they put around it.
Walking around the first floor with my group we decided to speak about it as a whole, then each of us would chose an individual object to talk about more in dept. Here‘s the link to the Power Point we’ve done.
I chose this piece:
It almost immediately cached my eye. Not because it was interesting or standing out somehow but because I was looking for something uncommon and this matched my expectations. It was placed in a quite central position, considering the floor’s layout, and it had ‘protective’ strings all around it. From this moment a lot of questions started popping in my head about what that object was, so I instinctively started looking for the label to read a description. But there wasn’t any to be found. Not immediately at least. So everything got more intriguing for my head and started wandering seriously on what it could be. What was happening with that object? Was it an object to dispose of and in the meantime they didn’t know where to place it? Was it an object of the exposition and just placed there to fill a whole? In that process I discovered to have a quite imaginative mind:
Was it an altar for sacrifice? A table? A crime scene?
I started to photograph my mysterious object, hoping that I could understand more by studying it. After a few pictures from different angles, and some minutes later, I finally found the label. It was placed on the side of the walkway, far from the object related to. My piece was going to reveal it’s mystery.
‘The jar is a container for the dead’
The first observation is that it took me a while to read through the two languages and through the lines of her description to see what it was.
The second observation is that she describes the jar as beautiful while the aesthetic of it is clearly in contrast with her affirmation.
The third observation is that she talks about a meaningful and profound subject which is the death and in her label she doesn’t say anything that it could immerse the viewer in her reflection upon death and the way she related it to her ‘beautiful’ object.
Forth observation is that either her, or the curator, didn’t create the proper environment (context, background…) in order, for the viewer to appreciate the object’s actually deep meaning.
As a small experiment, while writing my own reflections about the object, I just stood there at a proper study distance and observed the passers. In almost half an hour, everybody that passed by the object did’t seem to bother to give it a glimpse of a look. People were watching the objects before, that were under the protective glass and labelled and just seeing through my object of study, to the photographic exposition right after. Only one girl stopped, a ceramic student from another group but she didn’t have lick in finding the label.
In conclusion I have to say that I didn’t expect this experience to be so interesting. Analysing from different perspectives the layout of a single object and actually having so much to say about it. I will never enter a whatever exhibition with just the visitor’s eye anymore.