An early rendering of 180 Canvases. Images courtesy of Behance.
The word Wunderkammer needs a comeback. A German portmanteau of the words for "wonder" and "chamber," respectively, the term was applied to sixteenth-century vestiges better known in English as "Chambers of curiosities;" curio shops; undefined storefronts that unspecified multitudes of items at the shopkeeper's behest. Best described by University of Virginia professor Francesca Fiorani as "memory theaters," the Wunderkammer is a space in which any number of spaces can be formed and re-constituted.
In an alternative exhibition space in Beijing known as Arrow Factory, urbanist art and research studio Instant Hutong is taking back the Wunderkammer in the name of installation art, with their newest work, 180 Canvases.
"180 Canvases is a site specific installation designed to fill the space of Arrow Factory gallery in JianChang Hutong, Beijing. Arrow Factory is a 15 m² independently run alternative art space founded by artists Rania Ho and Wang Wei, which occupies a former vegetable stand and which is now hosting exhibitions on a monthly base. We played with the original concept of the space, a shop-like show window facing the hutong lane, inserting an element of surprise to catch attention of passing-by viewers. The contrast of a colourful Wunderkammer featuring 180 canvases painted by hand strikes with the grey colour of surrounding walls, bringing some reminder to local tradition of chinese colourful paper cutting and the common habit of people to hang up wires on which they put clothes to dry on the public lanes."
The installation is part of Instant Hutong's pursuit of "Theory of Moments," a research project that investigates undefined, "abandoned or under-used spaces in downtown Beijing." The end turns flat, colored canvases into a a stunning rainbow lattice:
Enjoy more of 180 Canvases, and check out more work by the artists on the Instant Hutong website.