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Evidence of Enculturation

by benandsebastian

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‘Suppose we try to recall a forgotten name. The state of our consciousness is peculiar. There is a gap therein; but no mere gap. It is a gap that is intensely active. A sort of wraith of the name is in it, beckoning us in a given direction, making us at moments tingle with the sense of our closeness, and then letting us sink back without the longed-for term.’
William James (The Principles of Psychology, 1890)

Department of Voids is a collection that started with empty transport cases for objects that had gone missing from a Copenhagen museum’s collection. Only the shell-like containers for the objects, carefully crafted and worn from much use, remain. All information about their contents’ identity and provenance has been lost.  

Each of the cases in the collection holds a complementary glass form, which acts as a placeholder for undetermined content. The empty containers are accompanied by lists of possible contents, from butt plugs to Amazonian shrunken heads.

Department of Voids celebrates doubt. Firstly, by observing the ambivalence that exists within the space left by missing objects, a space that can best be understood as a set of probabilities open to our personal projections. Secondly, through asking what role doubt and the longing for certainty play in creating new bodies of knowledge.

About the artist

Ben Clement and Sebastian de la Cour (1981, UK & 1980, DK) work together as the artist duo benandsebastian.

Their artistic output is a way of exploring the potential of doubt within material culture. Their work takes the form of an ongoing conversation around gaps and paradoxes in systems of thinking, materialised in constellations of artefacts, architectural fragments and institutional furniture.

One example of this is their ongoing work, Museum of Nothing, which exists as a series of parasitical departments installed in host institutions: most recently Department of Voids, at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa and at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen.

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Artist biography

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