The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Ultimate Exhibit

Ah, contemporary art... The final frontier of which is to install yourself in a place, and attempt to make a statement about your surroundings. Just what an artist is attempting to do at the Manchester Museum. Ansuman Biswas will be living at the top of the tower in the museum for 40 days in an attempt to... well, I'm not exactly sure what he is going to be proving:
The 43-year-old will contemplate things "lost" and the impact of extinction.
Currently living in London, Mr Biswas will uproot his life to exist in the ivory tower from 27 June until 5 August.
His only communication with the outside world will be through his internet blog as he details what life is like in seclusion.
...
Mr Biswas said: "Well in a way the one thing that is missing from the museum is life - a real live human being.
"Being at top of the this gothic tower is much the same way the brain is at the top of a spinal chord.
"The nature of loss, the cultural memory, I want to question what is important to us and how do we show that we value it?
"I will be in isolation but I see myself performing a social function that is a historically important part of society."

Umm, OK. Apart from living out our fantasies of living in a museum (my personal dream is to have a sleepover in the Great Bed of Ware at the V&A), the Biblical timescale, and perhaps echoing the Romantic notion of the counter-cultural hermit, I don't really see the point of this. I especially love that the museum spokesperson totally missed the point, too:
"By documenting his existence in isolation through blogging and webcam we hope that he will become the museum's ultimate exhibit."

Yes, because museums are zoos. *eyeroll* My other favourite part is that the BBC felt that the appropriate related links would be the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the Fire Brigades Union. LOL!
But perhaps we should follow the blog/webcam to see how it goes.

6 comments:

Amy said...

If he's going to be using a webcam and interacting with the public via a blog, surely the whole 'hermit' aspect is redundant? In which case, what exactly *is* the point? I don't get it.

J said...

Exactly!!!

Ceri said...

Where is your imagination ladies??!! He will be able to prove loads of things by sitting atop the Manchester Museum surely like... like... er I had a really good point about a moment ago honestly but it seems to have disappeared, perhaps it will come back to me ;)

Seriously though the idea of a fantasy involving living in a museum is giving me lots of ideas for new reality TV shows. It could be a killer especially if we can rope some gullible celebs in and get them to spend a night next to an Egyptian mummy or shrunken head or even the tiger's head snuffbox in Leicester. I can't say I've really thought about it for myself though, I guess it would have to be testing out one of those 18th century beds in a National Trust house that everyone says 'proves' that 18th century people were short. What if they just liked sleeping all cramped up???

Amy said...

I was once told, in France - so it must be true!, that beds were short because people were superstitiously afraid to sleep flat on their backs. Because that's how the dead were lain out. Spooky.

J said...

Ceri: I vote an enthusiastic yes for that reality TV series. It will air on my fantasy TV station, "Art Snob TV."

Amy: I read (?) somewhere that there was a fear of choking to death if people slept on their backs (which, given the prevalence of respiratory diseases before the invention of antibiotics, might be true) so that beds were short and people were propped up by bolsters and pillows. If you look at medieval manuscripts, this certainly seems to be true - there is at least two layers of pillows under the people's heads. To wit: http://semyaza.livejournal.com/761798.html

Amy said...

That makes sense!