Collector Thomas Olbricht is re-outfitting the Helm/Helmet/Yelmo installation created by Cuban artist duo Los Carpinteros. At the invitation of Museum Folkwang Olbricht is presenting favourite items from its highly varied collections in the unique setting. On show are also paintings by Chinese artist Ouyang Chun from the latter’s King cycle. In it, Chun offers an ironic take on the traditional homage paid to the king in the way of gifts; in doing so he highlights the tradition of burial gifts, one of the oldest forms of collecting per se.
Olbricht takes as the starting point for his selection of items for Helm/Helmet/Yelmo the historical chamber of marvels, for which nobles and prosperous citizens collected curiosities and rarities from all over the world. As in a classic chamber of marvels, in the Los Carpinteros’ installation works from five different categories are now on show: precious artworks (artificialia), rare natural objects (naturalia), objects from foreign worlds (exotica), scientific instruments (scientifica) and inexplicable items (mirabilia).
Olbricht transposes the historical principle of the chamber of marvels onto our present world and rounds it out with items of applied design and contemporary art. The presentation explores the validity of the customary distinction between the applied arts, ethnological art and the fine arts – and by extension museums’ conventional approach to exhibitions. He places contemporary art next to curiosities and the tastefully dignified next to kitsch, such that hierarchies blur. Karl Ernst Osthaus, the founder of Museum Folkwang, collected not only contemporary art but also art and artefacts from all periods of time and from all over the world. The exhibition Weird and Wonderful takes its place in this lineage and opens a new chapter in the investigation of collection types and collection presentations initiated by Los Carpinteros.