200 objects spanning 1,000,000 years, including art works by Enrico Baj, Louise Bourgeois, André Breton, Gilbert & George, Nan Goldin, William Hogarth, Eduardo Paolozzi, Cornelia Parker, Sigmar Polke and Kurt Schwitters.
Already there!, Weber’s accompanying exhibition, has the archaic fascination of abandoned ruins – in this case of obsolete thought systems. Culled from visits to the Science Museum, The Ashmolean Museum, Berlin’s Bode Museum and the Archaeological and Zoological collections of University College London, he has amassed nearly 200 objects, spanning more than a million years. Weber regards these objects as the “foundations” of his art works. In a sense they are the foundations of our own thought processes too.
Weber prizes moments when nature and culture, science and spirituality uncannily converge. All the artefacts suggest their human creators – some directly, as in the weapons and tools. Bronze age figures of animals sculpted by our earliest ancestors look oddly anthropomorphic. A bird cage from a lunatic asylum recalls confined inmates. Regency anatomical models with lift-out organs suggest people as real as we are, yet their clothes and manufacture conjure the unnavigable gulf of time.
A selection of art works, mainly from the Tate collection, echoes Weber’s interests, dating back to Monkey and Dogs Playing by Francis Barlow from 1661. Artists include Sir William Allen, Louis Anquetin, John Armstrong, Clive Barker, Francis Barlow, Reg Butler, César, George Fullard, Philip Guston, Gertrude Hermes, Sir George Howland Beaumont, Henri Michaux, Paul Neagu, David Shrigley, Sir Hamo Thorneycroft, Richard Wentworth.
Already there! represents our tentative understanding of ourselves – belief systems since discredited or abandoned. The exhibition is perhaps a memento mori of our own scientific and social systems – now the apogee of human achievement. In the future our own artefacts will be just as charged and curious Weber seems to suggest – part of another natural process of decay.