Museyrooms: Intersections of People and Art in Museums is a collection of color photographs taken by polytekton, aka Mikesch Muecke, that document the surprising resonance between animate and inanimate art in museums around the world.
From the Introduction to the Book
In Babel’s Tower Francis Taylor called museums evidence of the “magpiety of mankind.” Over the last years I visited several of these spaces of manic collecting and, where non-flash photography was permitted, I began to take images of the interiors. Soon I noticed that a large number of my photographs were blurred. Before discarding these obviously flawed images I observed—by taking a second look—a certain lightness in these pictures that stood in marked contrast to the rigidity of the physical museum spaces and their contents. The sense of power and control that museal architecture always represents, seemed to have been countered by photographs that captured not only the art but also the museums’ inhabitants in motion. At times I felt compelled to include some non-blurry pictures of the artwork as well but for the most time I was amazed—and detained—by that subtle intersection of architecture, space, and inhabitants in motion.
This book contains photographs I took in the following museums: the Art Institute in Chicago, IL, the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, the Louvre, the MARTa in Herford, Germany, the Freilichtmuseum in Detmold, Germany, the National Gallery in Washington, DC, the Building Museum in Washington, DC, the French Icarian Colony Living History Museum in Corning, IA, the St. Louis Art Museum in St. Louis, MO, and finally both the Nelson-Atkins and the Kemper Museum in Kansas City, MO.
This book and its title is a not-so-oblique nod to my erstwhile teacher and mentor Dr. Jennifer Bloomer who published an article, in February 1988, about the John Soane Museum in London, entitled “In the Museyroom”, in Assemblage No.5 (The MIT Press). In that essay she refers to James Joyce who, as far as I know, coined the word ‘museyroom’ and mentions it at least three times in Finnegans Wake in a reference to what might as well be the Wellington Museum (page 8, lines 9 and 10): “This way to the museyroom. Mind your hats goan in! Now yiz are in the Willingdone Museyroom.” And, on page 11, line 22: “This way the museyroom. Mind your boots goan out.”
As Bloomer writes in her essay, Joyce’s words are ‘switching mechanisms’—especially for those of us who know more than one language—and in a different but related sense the images on the following pages work as visual switches between what we expect to see in a museum, and what people actually do in these collective and collecting spaces.
In those first pages of Finnegans Wake Joyce makes ample use of starting his sentences with the declarative “This is…” Bloomer borrows his writing technique for her essay, amplifying the two words to “THIS IS…”, and breaks the text into paragraphs that mimic the language of museum guides, ergo:
THIS IS the least I could do in naming the book…
Publication Date: Sep 24, 2015
Page Count: 200, profusely illustrated
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 8.5″ x 11″
Color: Full Color with Bleed
Related Categories: Photography / Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions / Group Shows
You can buy the book here, and if you are in a hurry, check out the preview below…