In today’s museums and artworks, in digital and other public spaces, we are seeing again the ‘cabinets of curiosities’ that used to a mark of public culture in the 1500s. Some, but not all are presented as formal cabinets, like the Wunderkammer of the pre-Enlightenment era. What is the significance of curious objects for artists and curators working to explore the Anthropocene moment? Cabinets of curiosities celebrate objects, but they are also display connections, and juxtapositions. The ‘curious’ is in both. They often reflect both the unlikeliness of nature’s creations, and of their (dis)location in a well-furnished interior space. This paper unpacks some of these cabinet installations, reflecting on the role of juxtaposing unlikely objects as a response to the strange changes of the Anthropocene.
This lecture was given at the National Museum of Scotland, in partnership with EEHN