Tag Archives: science

What is a ‘science’ exhibition?

23 Aug
Santiago Sierra, 5 Anthropometric Modules Made From Human Faeces.

Santiago Sierra, 5 Anthropometric Modules Made From Human Faeces.

It’s a gift to work with people who know what they want to do and how they want to do it. This is more or less verbatim from a recent email exchange with Wellcome Collection Senior Curator Kate Forde. I can’t disagree with a single word of it. She says:

“I’m committed to producing inspiring and thought-provoking exhibitions that make people think differently about science (and indeed art). I think exhibitions can be life-enhancing and can open up conversations about themes which are sometimes difficult or complicated.

“I believe that the integration of history, philosophy and art in exhibitions that are ostensibly about ‘science’ can help us ask questions about what science is or could be now and in the future. I am basically persuaded by those who argue that science is a cultural practice and I think this is an accessible way in for non-experts to discover more about subjects they may have had little access to in the past. 

“I hope that our exhibitions can give people a sense of confidence and ownership when discussing issues that affect us all and I think the collection is key to this because its sheer scale and variety offers us the opportunity to apply such thinking in virtually any direction. The 3-dimensional objects in Wellcome’s collections are crucial because they can help communicate on another level altogether.”


Berlinische Galeriedasch

25 Oct

There’s really no other way to see a museum than Godard’s way. Sights seen in a three-day dash around Berlin’s museums and galleries:

Dor Guez at Kunst-Werke: a series of videos describing the lives of the Christian Arab population of Al-Lydd. A young woman, Samira, describes how she was asked by her manager at a Jerusalem restaurant where she worked as a waitress to change the name she used on the bill form Samira to Mira, because there had been complaints from people at being served by an Arab

Berlin Medical Historical Museum at the Charité: a display of medical technology detailing its relationship to the national socialist regime (euthanasia, racial hygiene etc). Objects visible from both sides of the display: plainly labelled on one side; the Nazi connection detailed on the other. Proof, at the risk of invoking Godwin’s law, that objects do not tell stories, but that we tell stories with objects.

Käthe Kollwitz Museum: the movement from a middle-class fascination with working class existence, to a genuine solidarity with the  labour movement.

Berlinische Gallerie: an interesting exhibition, Mutations III, that explored the relationship between art and found images online. Rather undermined by a patronising interpretive text that discussed ‘photography’ (the domain of artists) being replaced by ‘images’ (the domain of everyone else).

Kreuzberg Museum: maquettes of the streets of Kreuzberg, with three-dimensional picture viewers on strings to look into the shops and houses; without any German to understand the interpretive text, a strong sense of familiarity with the issues of gentrification and housing dealt with by the display.

Mark Dion at Martin Gropius Bau: an exhibition celebrating 300 years of WeltWissen or world-knowledge in the Berlin Year of Science is rather overshadowed by its centrepiece installation, a series of cubes by Mark Dion containing objects trawled from the collections and archives of Berlin’s science museums and archives. An immediate sense of recognition and similarity to the ‘Things’ exhibition at Wellcome Collection that I’m in the middle of escaping.

East Side Gallery: the twee naïveté of some of the murals is tempered by reflection that these pictures offer honest, unironic hope for improvement in the world and the condition of people. These pictures represent not so much what Berliners hoped for from the reunification of their city (the failed monuments to which you can see all around you) so much as the hope it offered to other Europeans arriving in a newly-opened city.