Found: a treasure trove of contemporary art at the Foundling Museum
Source:The Art Newspaper Author:Javier Pes Date: 2016-06-03 Size:
Thanks to the artist-curator Cornelia Parker’s fellowship at the Foundling Museum, the small……

The showCornelia Parker, Shared Fate (Oliver) (1998).

Thanks to the artist-curator Cornelia Parker’s fellowship at the Foundling Museum, the small, social history museum in central London has more contemporary art on display than institutions ten times its size. Parker has chosen works by more than 60 living artists for her exhibition Found (until 4 September) and installed them among the historic paintings and artefacts that tell the remarkable story of an orphanage and children’s hospital established in the early 18th century with the support of the leading painters, musicians and writers of the day. So, among the works donated by Hogarth, Gainsborough and Reynolds and artefacts associated with the children’s charity, visitors find art and cherished objects lent by artists including Fiona Banner, Tacita Dean, Christian Marclay, Laure Prouvost, Wolfgang Tillmans, Richard Wentworth.

The artists have responded generously and imaginatively to Parker’s call for works that are found in some way or other. Marclay is showing a new film featuring all the discarded bottle tops that he has spotted and photographed while walking. Michael Craig-Martin is showing his first and only film, shot in Ireland in the summer of 1962. He thought it was lost until his daughter found it in a trunk four decades on. Ephemera include a school detention report that lists the musician John Lennon’s misbehaviour. An exasperated teacher wrote that the future Beatle “groaned at me”. The page now belongs to the artist Jeremy Deller, who “found” it at an auction.

One of the most effective interventions into the displays of the museum can be found among the Foundling Hospital’s silverware. The artist Humphrey Ocean has lent a magnificently beaten-up hubcap that he found years ago in Peckham, south London, and has cherished ever since. Among the more remarkable objects is a column of pawnbroker’s tickets, many for golden wedding rings, that the designer Ron Arad has lent.

From the basement to the top floor of the museum there are visual surprises and thought-provoking works. In the grand Court Room, Parker has installed Gavin Turk’s grotty sleeping bag, Nomad, beneath Hogarth’s 1746 painting of the young Moses before the Pharaoh’s daughter. Among her own works on show is a toy doll of Oliver Twist that she severed in two with the guillotine said to have executed Marie Antoinette, the French queen who could not resist adopting children even though she had four of her own. (Only one survived the Revolution.) Shared Fate (Oliver) (1998) speaks of the violence of a painful separation between mother and child as do the historic tokens left by desperate women who were forced by circumstance to hand over their infants. They hoped against hope one day to be reunited with their children, the majority illegitimate, like Charles Dickens’s young hero.

Caro Howell, the director of the Foundling Museum, helped bring about Parker’s 2014 Hogarth Foundling Fellowship, which has borne fruit with the exhibition Found. Howell was also the go-between the Foundling and Handel & Hendrix in London, another small London museum. When the latter opened up earlier this year the top-floor flat where Jimi Hendrix once lived, it added a lift. That meant removing a flight of narrow wooden stairs. From the salvaged pieces—already cut up in readiness for the skip—Parker has created a new installation, There must be some kind of way out of here (2016). Found in the basement of the museum, juxtaposed at the bottom of its grand staircase, the work sums up an exhibition that is a model of how an artist as curator can transform a historical museum and bring it bang up to date. You can imagine Handel and Hendrix clumping up and down the stairs.

[Editor] 张艳