An exhibition curated by Vincent Honoré with works by Horst Ademeit, Ida Applebroog, Phyllida Barlow, Nina Beier, Louise Bourgeois, Bettina Buck, Miriam Cahn, Keith Coventry, Tony Cragg, Enrico David, Matthew Day Jackson, Shannon Ebner, Thomas Houseago, Bethan Huws, Chosil Kil, Martin Kippenberger, John Latham, Alvin Lucier, Marie Lund, Benoît Maire, Victor Man, Kris Martin, Eddie Peake, Man Ray, Steve Reich, Pietro Roccasalva, Wilhelm Sasnal, Rebecca Warren, Lawrence Weiner.
A Museum (1) of Leaves (2)
(1) Our new building – a former furniture factory built between 1870 and 1890 – reminds us that a museum is a production site. A site that not only presents and describes an existing context, but generates new contexts, a site where artists, curators, critics and other stakeholders can produce, share, discuss, act and interact, where visitors are co-producers, and where the machinery of exhibitions produces prototypes, experiences, catalysts for thought. Here thoughts are formed and visions transformed, culture is disassembled, and the contemporary redesigned. The dimensions of such a museum, in a state of permanent reconfiguration and hybridization, are impossible to measure, far greater than its actual floor plan or elevation, being at any one time a gallery, a laboratory, a studio, a workshop, an academy, a theater, a fiction.
Since 2008, at our temporary headquarters in Fitzrovia, DRAF has produced group and solo exhibitions, established a Curator Series, and hosted a programme of discussions and performances. Knowing that we would eventually be moving into a bigger space in Mornington Crescent, we viewed this incubation period as an opportunity to interrogate our model of what a contemporary art museum should be. From the start we conceived DRAF as a forum for discussion and a structure acting beyond the confines of an exhibition space. Our initial goal was to generate a unique context by establishing and supporting an informal cultural community, and this polyphony is something we intend to extend to the new building.
“Museums are houses full of thoughts,” according to Marcel Proust. DRAF can be such a house, rich in sensibilities, styles, and voices. Already this museum speaks many languages and tells multiple narratives in numerous ways. The library-cum-meeting room will serve as a cultural platform for a parallel programme of talks and screenings. Caroline Achaintre created a tapestry and Ruth Beale designed the furniture for this room. The Labs are invitations to researchers, critics or curators. We offer a space/office in which to work in our building, with the possibility of testing new ideas. Each participant is independent from DRAF. These and other aspects of our proposal for a museum will continue to adapt to the heterogeneous and constantly changing needs and visions of contemporary art. Other programme includes a focused case-studies of works from the collection, entitled Study, in which a single artwork is shown on its own and studied in depth, everything from its technique to its position in contemporary art debates.
(2) The title of the exhibition inaugurating our new premises, A Houses of Leaves, references a work by American novelist Mark Z. Danielewski in which different storylines, told in different styles, intertwine. The story centres around a house that keeps changing, a house that resists measurement because its interior gradually becomes larger than its exterior.
This exhibition has been conceived as a process lasting six months, a symphony structured in three movements and an epilogue, each deriving from the study of a single key work that defines the whole movement: Echo VIII, a sculpture by Louise Bourgeois (First Movement); Fuji, an abstract painting by Gerhard Richter (Second Movement); and Silent Score, a performance by Pierre Huyghe (Third Movement). The Epilogue moves towards the void, emptying the exhibition space to explore the architecture and volume of the space and reveal the long-term works – special commissions and interventions inscribed in the building itself. Each division will also highlight one different aspect of our project for a museum: the museum as structure in the first movement, as school in the second, as stage in the third, and as site in the final movement.
Rather than being structured around an external theme selected by the curator and “illustrated” with artworks, the exhibition self-organizes internally, the process mostly coming from the artworks and the building themselves. The substitution of works over the course of the exhibition will gradually alter the overall context and evolve naturally from one movement into the next like a dissolve in a movie. Since it will be in a constant state of flux, the exhibition is never the same and never entire, but is always virtually composed and completed by visitors: the museum as a deferred action and a mental space. Our museum, like the house in the novel, is a productive medium in its own right. It creates its own function. But who are its authors?
This immeasurable museum we are creating abandons the authoritarian voice. Many individuals directly or indirectly participate in its creation. By reading this text, you have entered this museum of leaves we have yet to define, and are now contributing to A House of Leaves, a co-author of this narrative, a player of this game, a character of this fiction, a performer in this symphony.
Download exhibition leaflet here.