This winter Museums Sheffield
is hosting a major new collaborative project by internationally renowned artists Tim Etchells and Vlatka Horvat. On view now at the Millennium Gallery, What Can Be Seen presents a bold, playful reimagining of the citys historic museum collections alongside new work by the artists, produced especially for the exhibition.
What Can Be Seen draws from the citys diverse collections to explore how we attempt to understand the world through history, science, art, narrative and the act of collecting itself. By presenting unexpected groupings of objects from across the citys collections, alongside fascinating series of similar items and drawings, as well as behind-the-scenes images taken in the museums store, Etchells and Horvat explore new relationships between otherwise unrelated subjects and areas of inquiry.
Visitors to What Can Be Seen will encounter a wealth of objects and images from archaeology, natural sciences, decorative art, visual art and social history, including pocket watches, biological specimens and Egyptian artefacts, as well as weather data charts, early 20th century puppets and a set of empty picture frames from which the paintings have been removed for conservation. Idiosyncratic and surprising, Etchells and Horvats project zooms in again and again on the act of care, observation and study by curators, scientists, artists and others as they try to record, understand, and communicate the world we live in.
The exhibition also includes two new series of photographic works produced by Etchells and Horvat, titled No Contextual Information and Card Index (Details) (both 2017). Images comprising these series bring to the foreground the hidden processes and systems used by the institution and its curators as they engage in the collecting, cataloging and keeping track of objects in their care.
Kirstie Hamilton, Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Museum Sheffield said: Were delighted to welcome Tim Etchells & Vlatka Horvat to the Millennium Gallery for their first major collaborative exhibition in Sheffield. Through the new contexts and associations it presents, What Can Be Seen invites the viewer to find new meanings in the objects on display and revaluate the very nature and meaning of a historic collection.
What Can Be Seen forms part of Making Ways, a new programme of exhibitions, residencies and events funded by Arts Council England, taking place over the next three years, which will showcase, celebrate and develop the exceptional contemporary visual art produced in Sheffield.
Tim Etchells (1962) is an artist and a writer based in London and Sheffield. He has worked in a wide variety of contexts, notably as leader of the world-renowned Sheffield-based performance group Forced Entertainment and in collaboration with a range of visual artists, choreographers and photographers. Vlatka Horvat (1974) is an artist based in London, working across a wide range of forms, namely sculpture, installation, drawing, performance and photography, presenting her work in various contexts from gallery spaces through theatre and dance festivals to the public realm.
Etchells and Horvat have collaborated on several projects before, having produced two video works together (shown as part of Art Sheffield 2008) as well as conceiving and performing together in several live performance pieces. The artists frequently act as sounding boards for one another in their individual practices, harbouring a close and ongoing dialogue. What Can Be Seen is their first large scale museum-based collaboration.