As an artist and historian my interest is in collections and taxonomy. These can be museum collections which cross cultural, historical and natural science boundaries or those of the individual, whether the antiquarian, lepidopterist or today’s collector of memorabilia.
Historically a 'Cabinet of Curiosity' contained ambiguous objects; those which refused to fit into any recognised system of taxonomy. It was a display of the wealth and education of the collector, constantly rearranged to inspire awe and wonder in both the physical object and the imagined stories it evokes. Today, with increased mobility, technology and globalisation, the world has shrunk and we see objects as familiar; their power to seduce and amaze is diminished, yet we still seek the curious, strange and unique to build our own collections. As we tweet, post and build our Pinterest galleries, mobile phones and computer screens have become the twenty-first century vitrine where the virtual is constantly competing to take the place of the physical.
As the pace of the dissemination of news quickens amid an ever increasing multitude of platforms, we struggle with what is real and what is 'fake' news and gossip, rumour and opinion abound. The same was true in the eighteenth-century; the ‘Age of Enlightenment’, as theoreticians and natural philosophers sought to categorise the world, the printing press allowed ideas and information to be disseminated both quickly and cheaply; the world was turned on its head with 'truths' questioned and information unreliable and ambiguous. In drawing parallels between the past and present I seek to ‘unbind’ traditionally perceived connections and explore taxonomical ambiguity through visual collections and juxtapositions of objects alongside the written word.
My current research is for a PhD which crosses the disciplines of History and Fine Art and Computer Science. I question how, in Linnaean botanical taxonomy, the prioritisation of the male stamen over the female stigma alongside the metaphors of domesticity and marital relationships used by Linnaeus to explain his system, related to the social norms and gendered hierarchy of the English eighteenth-century elite. My thesis will consist of physical artwork alongside an interactive data visualisations, in the form of timelines, maps, family trees and the like which act as both ‘artefacts’ and curatorial prompts to my written work.
For more information on my work see www.annegriffiths.com