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During the 1990's I was very interested in the idea of collection for making sense of the world.

Display Cases

 

Two Details From the Collection;
African Artifacts, from the collection of Mr & Mrs Winter Salzberg (1995)
and Detail from the Collection: Blue private collection, London (1996)

I started washing all the plastic bottles that passed through our home, and putting them on a shelf. Colour became a way of classifying, and then I made display cases from recycled cardboard for exhibition.

When asked to participate in an exhibition in Salzberg, I found a family that had souvenirs from visits to local gift shops. I collected them together and installed a display case in their home.

There are already enough 'things' in the world without the need to add any more

Cummings continues to investigate the way we construct value – social, cultural and cultural – through material things. This would include thinking about the 'institutions of display', galleries, museums and shops for instance, as well as the artefacts they contain. Imagine a museum vitrine, with interior lighting in which plinths present vessels of immediate and luminescent elegance; works of art of obvious value and importance displayed in classic museological convention. Approaching the seductive display across the gallery floor, the visitor discovers that not only does the vitrine lack the heavy plate glass to protect the contents, but that the mahogany was actually of a less solid order; merely found cardboard glued together to approximate the authority of museum display. Just as surprisingly, on closer inspection, the contents of the case turn out not to be important example of Roman glass, but domestic plastic bottles, deprived of their labels and revealing beautiful shades of the palest to the deepest blue. By a process of close attention to the conventions of display, Cummings has conjured from the discarded, a work of effortless glamour and sharp critique.

From the catalogue Pictura Britannica: Art from Britain Sydney, Australia 1997

Museum Futures was exhibited as part of I Taste the Future, the 2017 iteration of the Lofoten International Art Festival (LIAF), Norway.

I Taste the Future proposes speculations about the future of the Lofoten archipelago and its surrounding sea. Situated 150 years from now, the Festival draws on science fiction as a model for thinking about futures, rooted in Henningsvær, a village with 460 inhabitants. Historically Henningsvær was the most important fishing village in what still remains one of the world’s largest seasonal fisheries, known primarily for the cod that has been coming to spawn in Lofoten for centuries.

Surrogate was screened as part of Short Bursts of Concentrated Joy

Curated by David Blamey for Houghton, the new three-day art and music festival taking place on the Houghton estate in Norfolk, UK from 10th to 13th August 2017.

was reprinted in BRACES, LEVERS, FETISHES & TALISMANS

 

Side-Issues

 

Twenty years ago, in 1997, I researched and curated a complex multi-site exhibition.....

Collected

26th April - 21 June 1997
Exploring the depth and diversity of the collection...from Egyptian antiquities via 18th century paintings to Marilyn Monroe memorabilia.. at the Photographers Gallery, The British Museum, Habitat, The Royal College of Surgeons, Richard Lowe’s flat, Selfridges, Paul Smith, The Wallace Collection and Sir John Soane’s Museum.

On an individual and national scale we are associated with a bewildering array of clothes, tools, art, bibelot, gifts, cuisine, souvenirs, technology and rubbish. Objects are spilling from every shelf, cupboard, display case, vitrine, supermarket, gallery, shop, museum and land-fill site. Societies are collective, we are defined by evolving methods to classify, structure and direct this material avalanche.

[..] The activity of collecting, perfectly plays out the tension between the drive for order and the tendency towards excess and chaos implicit in our relationships. The collection cuts across all categories of objects, from the almost worthless to the literally priceless. Collected things hold the promise of a coherent space within the profligate material world.

In 1999 I researched and realised a project in Cardiff, for the soon to open Centre for Visual Arts. This is from the accompanying publication

PROMOTION leaflet 

PROMOTION: A new work by Neil Cummings
Limited edition artist’s prints
Centre for Visual Arts, and Habitat
20th July - 20th September 1999

PROMOTION is part of 'Not For Sale' a group exhibition organised by the Centre for Visual Arts in and around The Hayes, Cardiff. 

PROMOTION

There has been an exponential rise in the promotion of contemporary art; an expanding network of artists, curators, dealers, critics and magazines, books and catalogues, lottery fund distributors, freelance advisers, sponsors agents and promoters have all flourished and prospered. These ‘artworlds’ are part of a wider phenomena, the astonishing proliferation of promotional culture.

For two weeks, I was a visiting professor at the Villa Arson;

Terrace-Brise Soleil

Built on Saint-Barthélémy hill in Nice, with magnificent views over the city and the Bay of Angels, the Villa Arson is a utopian art school - something of an interest of mine - built on an ideal-model of a provençal village in a 'brutalist' style.

A historical account of the Villa Arson site could go something like this; it was home in the 16th and 17th Century to a community of Capuchin monks who cultivated orchards, vineyards, watercress beds, and olive groves. Then in the 18th century it was purchased by an aristocratic consul of Nice who built a mansion on the hill looking down to the city and the sea. In 1812, after the revolution and the end of aristocratic consul of Nice, all 6.5 hectares of the estate was purchased by a wealthy merchant, Pierre Joseph Arson. He remodeled the villa, and also designed a spectacular formal garden, constructed from successive terraces – parterres - criss-crossed with paths and staircases.

Over time and as fortunes changed the Arson family began selling off parts of the estate, by 1927 a clinic was built next to the villa, the villa became a hotel, and the site shrunk to 2.5 hectares. After the war, in 1946 the estate passed into the ownership of the City of Nice.

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Villa Arson, NiceIglesia del Santa SepulchroCollaborative mappingBoadilla babesAbandoned houseDaniel expert 1