Quiet counterpoint to the Frieze frenzy

Single object to be scrutinised for seven days, 24 hours a day

Object Retrieval

Object Retrieval”, which opened at the stroke of midnight last night, offers a considered counterpoint to the frenzy of Frieze week. The project allows the viewer a break from the usual experience of breezing past the thousands of works on display in London’s art fairs, viewed superficially at a frenetic pace. Object Retrieval instead takes a week-long, in-depth look at a single object from the museums and collections of University College London (UCL).

The project takes place on an old Routemaster bus, temporarily parked in the university’s main quad on Gower Street. British artist Joshua Sofaer has worked with UCL contemporary projects curator Simon Gould to select an object to be scrutinised for seven days, 24 hours a day, by a team of researchers from the arts and sciences, students and the general public. The object is a 1960s toy version of a Ford Sunliner Convertible V8 car. “The car, originally covered in lead paint, is part of the UCL Pathology Collection with records linking it to the suspected lead poisoning of a young child in the early 1960s and admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital,” says Gould. The idea is that by the end of the seven days, a mass of information of all kinds will have been collected around this item.

Joshua and I both selected the object over a period of months,” says Gould. “It’s funny because at first it seemed such an important task, but in the end it really doesn’t matter as I’m convinced that any object under scrutiny for such an intense period will offer up endless untold information—and very quickly the secondary and tertiary levels of surrounding interest will take over from the original object. Having said that, we are very pleased with the object we have chosen.”

Participants are asked to spend two to three hours with the item, exploring it in any way they see fit—whether that involves personal enquiry, discussions with the artist or curator, or analysing data from previous researchers.

Participation is everything to this project as without it, it is just an interesting concept,” says Gould.


News story published on The Art Newspaper website 15 October, 2009 www.theartnewspaper.com