Cabinets of Wonder in Contemporary Art - From Astonishment to Disenchantment

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Fragments of a Structure Fragments That Did or Did Not Happen, 2012 Mixed Media © Courtesy of the artist & Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art
Cabinets of Wonder in Contemporary Art - From Astonishment to Disenchantment

4 Ha'banim St
46379 Herzliya
September 8th, 2012 - December 29th, 2012

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10:00-14:00 Tuesday, Thursday 16:00-20:00 Sundays - closed


Cabinets of wonder were part of a European tradition of collecting practiced by aristocrats and other wealthy individuals from the 16th to the 18th century. These exhibition spaces held encyclopedic displays of strange, disturbing, surprising and exotic objects, which attested to the wealth and power of their owners. The first cabinets of wonder were created prior to the establishment of clearcut distinctions between science, philosophy, and art. This historical period was also marked by the first expeditions to the New World, and by the beginning of colonial trade relations between Europe and distant lands. Cabinets of Wonder were thus a quintessential product of their era: an expression of the human thirst for knowledge.

The current exhibition centers on contemporary artworks that are concerned with subjects similar to those featured in historical cabinets of wonder. This exhibition suggests that such contemporary artworks present a world view different than the one that shaped early cabinets of wonder - one impacted by the far-reaching changes that have reshaped the world and by the dramatic shift in our perception of it.

The gaze cast upon these wonders by contemporary artists undermines accepted perceptions of the world, and attempts to introduce a sense of disorder into the existing order. The works included in this exhibition critically examine the concept of wonder, replacing the viewer's sense of amazement with an experience of disenchantment and bitter disappointment.