Today’s museums are derived from the “cabinet of curiosities,” or Wunderkammer, that emerged in sixteenth-century Europe. This historical origin serves as reference point for Luis Jacob’s series of Cabinets, which comprise artworks selected from the collection of an individual museum, and assembled by the artist in a new configuration.
The series began in 2008 with Cabinet (Mönchengladbach), a work exhibited at the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, Germany. The second manifestation of this ongoing series, Cabinet (NGC Toronto) features artworks from the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, presented at the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art.
Cabinet (NGC Toronto) combines objects drawn from various collecting areas of the National Gallery of Canada, evoking resonances, both poetic and uncanny, between artworks not ordinarily seen together. In this manner, British artist Ron Mueck’s Maquette for the Head of “A Girl” (2006) is brought face-to-face with a death mask produced by Walter S. Allward in the early twentieth century, while the literalism of a rare early light-work by the Minimalist artist Dan Flavin is juxtaposed with the captivating illusionism of Murray Favro’s Sunlight on Table and Floor (1991).
With Cabinet (NGC Toronto), Jacob conflates the roles of artist and curator in a project that sidesteps orthodox means of museological display to reanimate dormant facets of both canonical and less familiar artworks. This Cabinet, like the others in the series, can be seen as a “model” or performance of a museum – a museum-within-the-museum – presented as a work of art in its own right.