All of This Belongs to You is an exhibition that focuses on the museum as a public space. Four artists, designers and architects have been commissioned to pose the question: “Is this an institution primarily committed to the preservation of objects for posterity, or should it be a place for new and challenging public uses?” The commissions, displays and objects are dotted around the museum rather than clustered together, giving visitors a sense of surprise and discovery. There are no set entry and exit points, encouraging each visitor to have a unique experience.
James Bridle’s work, Five Eyes, shares a space with several imposing 16th century tapestries. The contemporary piece fits so comfortably into the gallery that it jars and belongs at the same time. Five Eyes is also the name of the intelligence alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. Each country is represented by a vitrine full of documents and artifacts from the V&A archives. The contents of each vitrine have been “chosen by a software programme designed to seek out unexpected connections.” There are so many parts to this project, it’s fascinating.
More Than One (Fragile) Thing at a Time, a commission by muf architecture/art studio, makes a working classroom among the fountains and marble pillars in the medieval and Renaissance gallery. It questions whether, with some precautions, these priceless spaces can be used in a more modern and constructive way to benefit the public. It’s an innovation and a careful reconsideration of the space. Further on, a photograph of Julian Assange speaking from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy is displayed alongside an alternative version of the European Union flag, created by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture. Sheltered by architecture and diplomatic immunity, but in plain view of police, the Assange photo questions the realms of public and private protection.
All of This Belongs to You is a thought-provoking exhibition with some exciting pieces. However, as much as the curators hope for you to stumble upon the works, many of them may be missed without the guide map to highlight their context and the pieces do vary in quality. Take advantage of a tour when available, as without one, some may be lost in the eight miles of the V&A’s halls.
All of This Belongs to You is at the V&A from until 19th July 2015, for further information visit here.