Alice Anderson mummifies the everyday by wrapping objects entirely in copper thread. Her show at the Wellcome Collection feels like a precious tomb and yet brings you completely into the present by providing an often forgotten distance between our possessions and ourselves.
There are so many objects in most of our lives that are relatively meaningless, ordinary or even rubbish that we cling onto for seemingly no reason at all. Of course sentimentality often becomes distorted and a single remaining but tattered slipper can reflect a time and a place in the past but after a while grow into a much more ambiguous mental anchor, or emotional crutch.
Everything we own and furthermore keep means something to us. But how does the meaning change if we have more things and more time in an evermore digitised, instant and 'stored' world? As pointed out in the exhibition, we have all of our memories 'banked' in timeline photos, emails and iclouds. It feels safe knowing that they're actually there, they're almost factual, filed and complete – but that isn't the same as the strange and vague sentimentality one has towards that slipper, which, when you're gone, might go to a charity shop, but it will probably go to a dump with no one questioning its label of trash on its way there.
Everything Anderson and her team have transformed is still recognisable as mostly invaluable, or at least mass produced objects, such as telephones, tennis rackets and a canoe. A large proportion of the exhibition is in totally black rooms with individual spotlights highlighting each shining, 'precious' wrapped object, immediately historicised by its very own plinth. A section of the show includes different objects put together to appear somewhere between another object and a knowing art historical reference.
'The sounds of unspooling bobbins of wire and metal enclosing metal provide a soundtrack to the space, where collaborative focus and repetitive movement elicit a reflection on consciousness and our mutable relationship to time.' Visitors are invited and encouraged to contribute to the formation of a newly copper wrapped pieces – including a 1967 Ford Mustang and actively take part in creating and trying to understand the significance of objects and memory.
‘Memory Movement Memory Objects’
22 July to 18 October 2015
A full programme of events will accompany the exhibition and a book featuring beautiful photography of the objects and introductory texts from curator Kate Forde and Israel Rosenfield is available.