between Curious Matter and Proteus Gowanus in Brooklyn, included artists from Australia, Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom, in addition to artists from the immediate area. Artists were asked to explore man’s impulse to classify the world around us. Richard Haymes contributed a Gothic woodwork cabinet that housed religious tchotchkes, jewels and jewelry fittings, a fish tank thermometer, a page from an Italian children’s primer, and a hair net, to name just a few items. Lasse Antonsen’s artwork included taxidermy that featured three kingfishers. Colette Male’s sculptures, which referenced sailors’ ivory carvings from the 1500s, comprised seashells, coral, plaster, and resin, and resembled a hybrid creature. If the parlor room is beginning to sound like a cabinet of curiosities, it should.
VARIATIONS ON A THEME
A cabinet of curiosities, known in German as Kunst- und Wunderkammer, displays an encyclopedic collection of all kinds of objects of dissimilar origin. Whether the objects on view were manmade or natural, the collection was a reflection of intellectual
rigor and inquisitiveness. It would not be an anomaly to find taxidermy birds paired beside clock automata or botanical specimens from an exotic location. “Cabinets of curiosity vividly evidence the desire to understand the world around us,” says Mingst. “The physical manifestation of the pursuit for knowledge is what captivates me as an artist. I often think of the art I produce as a collection of relics and notes.” Bruso echoes Mingst’s enthusiasm. “As a visual person, I am interested in visual objects,” he says. “As a youth, I was interested in science and collected all kinds of things: shells, rocks, butterflies, bones, and anything that was out of the ordinary.” The world of nature is not the only aspect of cabinets of curiosities that inspire Bruso. “I also grew up in an Italian-Catholic family which had all of the statues, prints, reliquaries, beads, prayer books, and candles associated with the religion. “I developed an interest in the macabre, the occult, tarot, symbolism and the creepy and fantastic,” he adds. “This is the aspect of cabinets of curiosities that attracts me.” 23
Published on Dec 3, 2011
The Winter 2011 issue of NEW, Jersey City's magazine of arts, culture and lifestyle. Featuring stories on Filipino food & culture in Jersey...