Well, as of today it’s been exactly one year since I flew to Cannes, France to set up an exhibit at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
So maybe I should write a bit about it, eh? Here it is.
Stephanie, me, Julian
It was March 2013 when I got an email from Cailie Dimmock from Lambie-Nairn—I could tell this would be nothing less than awesome.
Subject: Method/Madness exhibition
Message: Hi there,
My company is in the process of organising an exhibition space at the Cannes Also event this year. We are looking for someone to work with us to curate this idea and I came across your website and wondered whether you had done anything like this before? Some details below;
Our aim: To collate, curate and create a ‘collection of collections’. Represented both physically or visually. To celebrate the ‘what’ not necessarily the ‘why’. An exciting visual feast. A gathering of stuff. Designed to make you think. Designed to make you smile. Designed to make you a little bit envious.
If you are interested in discussing the project further then please let me know.
She simply asked me to throw out a bunch of ideas so we could discuss. I did, several actually, and we discussed and Cannes approved and here’s where we ended up…
Well, here’s the rough sketch that became the thing. Do you like how I drew myself in there? I really look like that, I swear. Sloppy & skinny, with marker ink all over me.
PART 1: One Wunderkammer
If you can have a greatest hits of the worst ideas then this was it.
One Wunderkammer was a collection of collections. There was nothing in the room truly valuable or collectible (there never is); they were small objects and overlooked scenes that were only important because they were together, rearranged, and presented. The projects in the room were a mix of art, documentary journalism, personal archaeology, and collecting.
- Seen out of context, even someone’s grocery list can be interesting.
- Presented in bulk, actual personalities emerge from old, abandoned chairs.
- Brought together, a bunch of unrelated family photographs becomes both sad and inspiring.
Everything there was sad and inspiring because One Wunderkammer was about the beauty in small things forgotten—old things, ugly things, absurd things, ignored things. Those things once had a life of their own as part of the lives and stories of many unseen and forgotten people. Those stories may be boring, but they fill our lives. One Wunderkammer—and most of my projects—are about the life behind the things we leave behind.
The “collection of collections” included: The Grocery List Collection, Milk Eggs Vodka: Grocery Lists Lost & Found, the Let’s All Go to the Grocery Store CD, 50 SAD CHAIRS, The Rust Series, The Unspectacular Doors of St. Louis, Always Every Now and Then, Undensed Book #1, Thumbs Up!, The Errorotic Wikihole, Family, Albert’s Get Well Cards, 3 Drawings of Me Sitting in Chairs, Rock Shaped Like Shoes, U.S. Dirt, House/Home, Found Lincoln, Misspelled, The Periodic Table of Periodic Tables, The Thrift Store Book Project, Pre-Owned Bookmarks, Arbortecture, Urban Strata, The “Oops” Video Series, The “My Day, Yesterday” Video Series, Acci-Stencilly, Other Peoples’ Scrapbooks, Vintage STL Cabinet Cards, and 20th Century Anonymous, as well as a few lesser, unlabeled collections. (Please see keaggy.com for context.)
PART 2: Daily photo projects
In addition to the collection exhibit, I suggested that I tackle one photography project every day, based on the things I saw around me. The idea was to identify a theme and “collect with photography.”
It’s sad how much easier this kind of project is when you’re not actively looking for themes. See the Flickr Album for more.
- DAY 1: #LeCoinsDuCannes | “The Corners of Cannes” found around the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes.
- DAY 2: #CannesCans | Puns and wordplay from all over the city (Cannesteloupes? Hilarious.).
- DAY 3: #ContinuousCannes | Stringing images together to create simple patterns.
- Day 4: #CannesCreativity | Found letters spell out a classic quote on creativity.
- Day 5: #NoCannesDo | Cut and paste from the Lions Awards winners to create new messages.
- Day 6: #ArCannesTecture | Apartment buildings (I really was running out of steam by this point).
PART 3: The artists, the organizers, the event, the city…
I had the pleasure of exhibiting with two fun and talented artists. Stephanie Imbeau created a visual cloudscape from hundreds of old umbrellas, and Julian Brown designed an auditory soundscape with dozens of old speakers. It all made for a fascinating experience in the Cannes Also exhibit area. It also was really cool to participate in the of assembling their projects and to get to know the good people at Lambie-Nairn and The Brand Union, who sponsored this festival event.
And, of course, I got to see some of the actual Lions events—the highlight of which definitely was watching George Lois and Lee Clow talking old days (and talking shit).
And… hot crap—they were giving away free Coca-Cola in cute aluminum cans… I drank more soda that week than I had in the last 10 years. Really.
PART 4: Paris
After the festival I took a train to Paris and spent a few days relaxing there, doing a lot of walking and bike riding (and probably way more eating). I did not, however, get to do the Eiffel Tower (they were on strike).
There are plenty more photos in this Flickr Album—maybe someday I’ll add captions.