IAN WIECZOREK - Visual Artist

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The Cabinet of Wonders
Ongoing project, Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Project commenced June 2016. Devised and curated by Ian Wieczorek

The Cabinet of Wonders is the result of an open call-out to artists, offering an artistic reflection on the original Cabinets of Curiosities, embodying the subjective eclecticism exercised by collectors as early exemplars of curatorial practice. While reflecting contemporary artistic practice, the works may also be viewed through this historical prism.

Cabinet of Wonders #1 comprised work from the following artists:
Sandra Corrigan Breathnach invites us into a world beyond the purely physical, where materials take on new associative significance;
Bennie Reilly’s works explore the phenomenon of ‘manufactured’ curiosities, a fashion that was prevalent in the Cabinet of Curosities’ heyday;
John Waid entertains us with the impossible, somewhere at the crossroads of perfection and complete impracticality;
Mary Ryan offers an object of intrigue, with a clear yet elusive back story that we can only guess at;
Fiona Coffey presents a wry contemporary take on a religious relic;
Ian Wieczorek asks us to consider the implications of Science today, where everything seems possible;
Sarah Lundy offers an arcane reconfiguring of the familiar into an esoteric echo of pagan ritual;
and finally Medbh Gillard presents a true domestic curiosity - or is it?...

Ian Wieczorek, text, 2016

Catalogue text:

Cabinets of Curiosities, also known as Kunstkabinette or Wunderkammern, were collections of unusual objects which offered insights into the rich and often curious diversity of the natural world
and beyond, spanning everything from antiquities and religious relics to natural ‘freaks’, medical curiosities and other uncategorisable items.
Inspired by the empirical approach of Classical thinkers such as Aristotle and Pliny the Elder, Cabinets of Curiosities found their beginnings in the time of the Renaissance. Initially seen as both edifying and as markers of status for their collector-curators, they offered a cocktail of learning and entertainment. Such Cabinets remained a mostly exclusive preserve of the rich and influential, until in the 19 century the likes of showman PT Barnum’s American Museum introduced a more public and often sensationalist sensibility.
While the fashion for Cabinets of Curiosities no longer holds popular currency (with a few notable exceptions), they paved the way for the more formal and rigorous museum model that we are familiar with today.
Taking its inspiration from the Cabinet of Curiosities, The Cabinet of Wonders presents a series of objects mined from the creative imagination of a selection of contemporary visual artists. Inspired by the eclectic approach of the original collector-curators, it presents a range of works that will hopefully intrigue and engage the passing viewer.

- Ian Wieczorek, text, 2016

The Cabinet of Wonders is an ongoing project devised and curated by Ian Wieczorek, presented in association with Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland. The project was initiated in June 2016.

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