While in London a few weeks ago, I found the time to check out a small but intriguing exhibition at the Tate Britain. Entitled "Classified: Contemporary Art at Tate Britain," the exhibition focuses on recent Tate acquisitions that pivot around the central theme of classification and taxonomy, and features the work of Damien Hirst, Mark Dion, and Jake and Dinos Chapman. More about the show, from the Tate website:
Classified: Contemporary Art at Tate BritainYou can find out more, see more images, and watch a video about the exhibition by clicking here. But better yet, visit it in person, if possible. A small but lively and engaging exhibition.
How we see the world is how we understand it. Things are seen in relationship to other things and actions. Connections are made, naming takes place and meaning is formulated. We all engage with the world around us in diverse ways, both actively and passively.
The meanings and names given to things are not fixed, but instead fluid. We classify and catalogue but over time these categories and attendant meanings change, as does the importance they hold for us. The medieval world view, or cosmology, bears little relationship to the way we understand our place in the world today.
The works in this exhibition are drawn from Tate Collection. They adopt various forms, suggest diverse types of interpretation and provide a means of suggesting how the different types and arrangements of material culture inform our daily life. The exhibition also makes explicit the museum's role in collecting, classifying and displaying objects. It reveals how the arrangements of objects feed into museum systems of classification and interpretation bringing a sort of order to the world.
Images, from Tate website: Top: Mark Dion, "Tate Thames Dig" 1999; Mixed media, installation; Bottom: Damien Hirst, "Forms Without Life" 1991: MDF cabinet, melamine, wood, steel, glass and sea shells, installation