News Issue No. 12 Autumn 2001
The East Wing Collection, 2001
Tom Hunter, Home, photograph courtesy of White Cube
Tom Hunters Home depicts two squatters returning to their temporary accommodation only to find it repossessed by developers. The glossy shimmer of tumbling brambles punctuated by the jewel-like red of the crying boys jacket imbues this scene with a grandeur that is typically suppressed in the usual site of this subject matter, documentary photography. In addition, this sensation is heightened by re-staging this very real-life contemporary situation in the same compositional terms as those of the 1857 painting Home from Sea by Pre-Raphaelite Arthur Hughes. By inserting a contemporary political issue within the tradition of 'history of art, this apparent clash of cultural hierarchies challenges us to explore what the discipline we work within takes as its subject. Perhaps more importantly it asks us what are the series of exclusions and confinements 'Art uses to define itself? For unquestionably 'Art remains an institution despite the best deconstructive efforts.
On the tenth anniversary of the conception of the exhibition these issues have been a focus for the team of postgraduate and undergraduate students behind the 2001 Collection. By framing the supposedly 'anti-theoretical works of current contemporary practice within these terms the preparation of this collection has offered current students a real way to communicate their on-going interests and academic research. By taking the Institution as a source of inspiration the Collection also remains true to the original motivation behind Joshua Compstons 1991 Collection; the relationship between contemporary art and the Palladian architecture of Somerset House itself. It remains impossible to ignore the fact that the snaking corridors and classically proportioned rooms offer a distinctly different environment from the modern white cube space. By consciously engaging with these issues the committees aim has been to provide a contrasting perspective of the Courtauld, not simply as an Institute but also as a dynamic student body who provide the very fabric of the institution itself.
Just as all previous Collections have offered a distinct brand of the prevailing interests of committee members, so the 5th East Wing Collection promises to distinguish itself from the last. Exciting developments from previous years successes include an increased web presence and catalogue. Furthermore, to highlight the achievements of the last ten years we hope to make the opening of the collection an unmissable event. Inevitably, the democratic nature of curating by committee yields some unlikely collisions of work. We hope that these unpredictable but creative encounters of the 5th Collection that will engage viewers beyond the opening night and continue to arouse weary intellects for the forthcoming two years.
The 10th anniversary The East Wing Collection opens on November 9 2001 and will remain on show for two years.