the museum of everything?

Like many others, i was horrified to hear about the deaths that occurred at a Walmart outside New York a week ago on black friday. This in mind, i’ve taken on the challenge of making or re-fabricating all my holiday gifts this year.

While brainstorming  ideas i came across an interesting idea on the ReadyMade website – this project was called ” the museum of everything” . It is a craft project that asks you to make a title card for your television. This process designates it as an exhibit and therefore entitles it to all the historical designations as other titled “objects” found in museums.

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The gulf between the arts and society at large has widened steadily since that spoilsport Marcel Duchamp first stuck a bottle rack on a pedestal and, in a single stroke, revealed art to be what the masses had long suspected: a parlor game for the intellectual elite. The proto-punk rantings of the Dadaists and the nightmarishly protean blobs of the Surrealists did little to restore faith. Later in the 20th century, Abstract Expressionism’s attempt to re-infuse art with spiritual value was undone as much by its near-complete incomprehensibility as by the whisky-tinged machismo of the movement’s heaviest hitters.

The time is long overdue for us to cash in on the promissory note deposited by Duchamp. What is called for, demanded even, is the end not of art, as so many have declared, but of artists. To this end, I herald the coming of Anonymous, the nameless savior of art. No longer will art be considered the elitist product of the navel-gazing boheme, but instead a condition, a state, a mental divan upon which to recline.

In the simplest, most elegant manner-nothing more than a small white museum label (generic name: wall text) citing the title, the date, and the materials used to produce the work. Placed next to any object, in any room, on any building, this small and unassuming label has near-limitless power. Not even the most knuckle-scraping philistine will question the authority of a small white placard, announcing to all in its unassailable tone: This Is Art!

granted i do believe that art=reality & everyone is an artist – i do not feel that placing a label on something acts as a moment of transubstantiation. Art is a process, and more museums should be understanding it as such by selecting systems based pieces that incite the imagination, cue curiosity, and provoke our preternatural sense of wonder.I suppose in some ways television does this, but its not the same as encountering work in a museum setting- for a number of reasons that would take a much longer post to discuss.

that being said – if I had a TV, i would probably do this project, just to be cheeky. it could start a worthwhile conversation.

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3 Responses to “the museum of everything?”


  1. 1 Ian December 7, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    Have they done the art show where people arrive and are told to put on name tags and the space is empty and they are the “art”? I mean you know outside of AA meetings and speed dating of course.

    • 2 w h i t n e y December 8, 2008 at 6:41 am

      i’m sure its happened somewhere- i’ve done it in class as a joke.
      a few years back I made a film similar to that -or close to it. a work gets purchased and the piece gets removed form the gallery. shortly after- a woman walks by and starts talking to someone and a passerby mistakes her for the work and makes a comment to her friend. trite, but effective.

  2. 3 Ian December 8, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Yeah it was a typo. I remember the film where the people thought the trash can was the art. It was a cine project if I remember correctly but this must have been a different one.


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I'm also a contributor to the Henry Art Gallery's Hankblog and editor/producer of the Gallery's ArtCasts.

I'm currently working as a Wallace Foundation Fellow with emp|sfm to foster a new network for the NorthWest all ages music & arts community. Its called The Sound Board and you should totally check it out.

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