This witty sculpture takes its cue from the small often barely noticeable translucent signs that museums temporarily erect when works are not available for display. In a playful and slightly irreverent gesture, Peter Saville and Anna Blessman have remade the signs and re-presented them in a context that gives them the status of the original artwork. These works provide a temporary interruption in the logic and flow of the display in a museum, while resting on the premise that not only was the object once there but it will be returned (and business will return to usual). The slightly archaic language and the distanced authorial curatorial voice raise issues such as the power and authority of the museum as an institution; the boundaries between an art work and the way it is presented for display, and the audience’s readiness (or unwillingness, perhaps) to engage with a conceptual work.
Anna Blessman began noticing and photographing these placeholders in museums and galleries more than a decade ago. Her interest lay in how these signs raised ideas of possession and collection, as well as the endless scope they provided for the imagination.
One of the UK’s most influential graphic designers, Peter Saville designed album covers for Manchester’s Factory Records artists such as Joy Division and New Order in the 1980s. He has also worked in the fashion industry for, amongst others, Alexander McQueen and Dior. In 2004 Saville became Creative Director of the City of Manchester and, in 2010, he designed the England Football team home shirt. His first contemporary art exhibition was in 2005 in Milan.
Saville collaborates with the photographer, Anna Blessman. They met each other in 2001 in Berlin, became a couple and have made work together since. Their recent work has invited interaction and participation through tactile installations that speak directly to the audience. For their exhibition Swing Project 3 at the Cabinet Gallery in Vauxhall, London in 2014, for example, you were urged to touch and fondle colourful fake fur forms sitting on plinths. In another piece, Leaning Works (prototype), two soft structures were presented that allowed you rest your back when leaning on the wall (perhaps chatting at the opening, a glass of wine in hand).
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