Troglodytes

Fiona A Jardine (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

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Abstract

Troglodytes was held in Paisley Museum as part of the Contemporary Art Society (CAS) year-long, nation-wide Centenary programme involving more than 30 public collections. The exhibition followed 6 months of research: attention was paid to the circumstances of the Museum's genesis in relation to Paisley's industrial heritage and the social composition of its 19th Century debating societies and drinking clubs. Intertwined relationships between industry, taxonomy, evolution, eugenics and ornament in the aesthetic debates underpinning Modernism (Lombroso; Loos; Criminal Skins) were also examined, providing the groundwork for an accompanying catalogue essay (ISBN 9 780954 707 132).

Conditioned by this research, a class of paintings (male portraits) were selected 'unseen' for display; pragmatic constraints (condition reports) were embraced as active curatorial principles. Rather than approaching the self-selected class of bourgeoisie that emerged within the bounds of conventional museological practice, (augmenting individual narratives), taxonomical models derived from the practice of contemporary artists were employed to structure display (Creed, McCollum). The serial treatment of the objects opened the exhibition out onto notions of the absurd. Contradicting their social status, the subjects of the paintings were treated symptomatically, (as a 'Lombrosian' class). Despite the arbitrary nature of the hang, (in order of beard length), paintings grouped themselves genealogically and historically.

As counterpoint, a group of ceramics selected along specific lines of social and aesthetic inheritance illustrated the trajectory from high industrial ornamentation (Wedgwood) to puritanical truth-to-materials (Mommens), a trajectory influenced by the Modernist assimilation of evolutionary theories.

Paisley Museum has significant decorative art holdings pursues a collecting policy that reflects those interests materially and critically. The Contemporary Art Society are actively involved in promoting experimental curatorial approaches to collections.

A presentation relating to the methodology and content of Troglodytes was delivered at the CAS National Network Conference, University of Liverpool to a specialist audience.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPaisley Museum
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

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