6 - 9pm, Friday 4th Sep
Chris Thompson - Instrument
The British Museum is a storehouse. Full of questionably acquired objects, its contents offer a window into the wider systems of ownership, wealth, transportation and consumptive structures embedded within their original eras and places. As an institution, its behaviour is also produced by those same structures. This is perhaps most evident in the gift shop, where one can buy plastic fridge magnet facsimiles of a Lewis Chessman knight for £3.50 (£3.15 for members).
In Season 9, episode 22 of The Simpsons, Homer Simpson becomes the Commissioner of Sanitation for the city of Springfield by making a lot of crazy promises, and with a little help from Bono. Homer devises an idealistic system that promises to fix and deal with every single spill, nasty banana peel and fashion disaster the townspeople can produce. Predictably Homer’s Odyssey blows up in his face - literally. After spending all of the department’s money, the trash refuses to be so easily managed and starts to spew out of every hole it can find. But what about my knight?
These two institutions may be bound by a sense of custodial responsibility towards our produce, waste or artefacts, but there is a crucial difference to be observed between them. Homer’s wilfully absurdist system seems almost designed to expose the agency our crap has, but my knight is a far more subtle, unintentional cypher.
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