THE FRAGMENTED MUSEUM


Presentation




(A refuge for those fragments of the world in need of definition.)


Every museum is a depository where gather the survivors of oblivion. It is a sanctuary for objects of every possible kind, dedicated to the familiar history and secret memory of ordinary things.

The most commonplace objects have a story to tell. Once given the opportunity to reveal fragments of their hidden nature, we are invited to reconsider them in a new light. They become curiosities and as such they may be elevated to the exclusiveness of sacred or historic relics.

(Concerning Truth)


The Fragmented museum is concerned fundamentally with fact. The authenticity of its elements I have either been led to believe or I can myself certify as true. For those who require proof of the information given, I can only suggest they move on elsewhere for, if my word is not enough to convince them, the Fragmented Museum becomes a senseless collection of objects, its elements being no more than what we see.

Many of these objects have been presented to me by a variety of people and I have had to take their word that the information they have given me is correct. If, however, an untruth has accidentally or intentionally found its way in, I can only say that Truth, like everything else, contains homeopathic doses of its opposite nature.


Squaters

Hyperthetical
Museum

Edwin's Curiosity
Cabinet

ARTE - Journal de la Culture - Feb 2007




ORIGINS


It was in 1982 that I began gathering fragments from Paris' crumbling monuments. This collection of minerals was to become the nucleus of a small museum.

Divers objects of a mundane character were soon to appear amidst this pile of Paris rubble and as it grew in size there slowly emerged a distinct orientation to the museum: it was becoming a stage where commonplace things are encouraged to experiment unconventional roles.

Word had got around in the world of objects that there was a sanctuary where ordinary things may be honoured not only for what they appear to be, but also for what they can be once they have been given the opportunity to reveal fragments of their hidden nature. Stories were being told, secretes disclosed.

It was some years later that a great aunt of mine, rummaging through her attic came across an old trunk "full of rubbish." It turned out to be a collection of oddments having belonged to a great, great, great uncle.

Edwin Charles Ashford of Morlands, like many gentlemen of his time, was a collector of curiosities. His wife proclaimed that a gentleman should dedicate his life entirely to leisure and, perhaps in an attempt to forestall the eventual ennui resulting from this forced idleness, he embarked upon a fantastic and futile task: an inventory of the world.

With the methodical implacability of a museum curator, he gathered indiscriminately anything that came his way, giving his entire attention to the most ordinary objects and in so doing, inspiring them to play unexpected roles.

The objects in the trunk were, for the most part, a collection of very ordinary items - a lump of coal with price per ton in 1876... wrapped up, boxed and neatly labelled; clay found in an orchard 3ft.4ins deep on 19th Oct.1876; a piece of wood picked up by Dr. Ashford in Englishcombe Lane on Sunday April 28th. One item is particularly intriguing; a piece of wood in the form of a one inch cube on which is inscribed: "This cube represents in bulk 1000 grams of sea water of sp. gr. 1.022, taken at Sheerness at half-flood."

When unnecessary or ludicrous information concerning commonplace objects is put forward seriously or when an object exists uniquely as a representation of something totally incongruous, we are invited to adjust our appreciation of them. By enacting the roles allotted them in this magical theatre, they become objects of curiosity, and can henceforth stand their ground alongside items of unquestionable significance.

Coincidence, heritage, whatever! I somehow felt that my museum was no longer entirely of my own making but rather a continuation of this strange Victorian gentleman's collection of oddments. It is for this reason that his humourless photo presides over my museum anticipating the day when our two collections will be united.