The Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities popularised in Renaissance Europe, was a place for extraordinary natural and manmade objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. As a precursor to the modern museum, which gave form to accepted taxonomies of natural and manmade things, the Wunderkammer was viewed as a microcosm or theatre of the world.
Utilising Objectspace’s Window Gallery to create a present-day Wunderkammer, Hannah Bremner presents her curiosities in this public setting. Rather than being displayed in a private cabinet for the viewing pleasure of a privileged few, Bremner stages her work in full view of a busy pedestrian thoroughfare.
Bremner’s Wunderkammer displays a collection of contemporary curiosities, created and arranged by their maker. This accumulation of works extends the concepts explored in Bremner’s The Imaginary Archives and Collection Box series. Wunderkammer is concerned with issues relating to identity and transformation, as well as methods of preservation. By using various methods of display, Bremner questions how display technologies affect perceptions of value and meaning.
“I am interested in questioning the boundaries that dictate value and meaning in defining art practices and genres”, Bremner states. This approach is seen in her choice of materials and practices. Glass casting and sewing have been used to create these works which are presented using the authoritarian framework of traditional museum display methods. The presentation of these objects in museum vitrines signifies Bremner’s endeavour to elevate the value and meaning of materials and processes usually associated with “the crafts”.
Bremner states, “I consider these works to be relics. Fake, impersonations of sacred religious icons or rare scientific specimens. These display cases are a relic of the past. They represent an antiquated and elitist method of display. Behind the glass veil, inside the case the object changes meaning and is transformed.”
Hannah Bremner is a Wellington based visual artist working with mixed media and with a background in contemporary cast sculptural glass. Her work has been exhibited in New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom and is included in public and private collections nationally and internationally. In 2002 she was selected as a resident artist by North Lands Creative Glass studio in Lybster, Scotland (a project funded by the Scottish Arts Council).