Cabinets #5

The cabinets employed here by the artists serve to underline the nature of display through scale and substitution. The formal properties of a glass vitrine are suggestive of containment, and thus, separation or fetishisation, the result of the museum’s systemic activity. Fragments of what is ‘out there’, in the world are brought in for scrutiny and display, protected by the glass screen of a vitrine; hence, it serves to draw our attention to, not what it contains, but all that it does not. It is the cabinet’s inability to contain that ensures continuing interest, acting like a box in the world theatre by promoting the idea of (a space of) art, but in a condensed form. Where the cabinet of curiosity became a window onto an exotic realm, the ‘White Cube’ shut it again, insisting on the exclusion of all but art from its ethereal body. In the Contemporary, this space is once more opened up to the world, yet it is one rendered in miniature, located in the head of the artist, an essentially private and reticent place.

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