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The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

Curated by Mark Leckey, The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things is one of the series of acclaimed artist-curated exhibitions commissioned by Hayward Touring (South Bank Centre, London). It opened at the Bluecoat, Liverpool, and its second iteration took place at Nottingham Contemporary between 27 April and 30 June 2013.  

The objects selected by Leckey were displayed within four galleries according to a taxonomic relationship to four categories - the Vegetable World, the Animal Kingdom, Mankind, and the Technological Domain. Leckey’s chosen objects included artworks (by William Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Prunella Clough, Peter Coffin, Martin Creed, John Gerrard, Robert Gober, Richard Hamilton, Nicola Hicks, Roger Hiorns, Andy Holden, Elad Lassry, Pierre Molinier, Jonathan Monk, Mick Peter, Richard Prince, Jim Shaw and Tøyen amongst others) and also artefacts, including a mummified cat and canopic jar from Pharaonic Egypt; a phallic sculpture from the set of A Clockwork Orange; a mandrake root; a drawing by ‘Joey the Mechanical Boy’; a Cyberman helmet from the set of Dr. Who; a huge inflatable Felix the Cat; a 13th-century silver reliquary in the form of a hand, and a clay concept car.

The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things expanded on the interests of Leckey’s own artistic practice, and as such it could also be considered as having been his most ambitious solo exhibition to date. He thought of the show as “a work of fiction: a non-realist, anti-realist, magic-realist, speculative, slipstream fiction, a sort of sci-fi show. An inflation or amplification of the way the world appears to me now, a shape of ‘things’ to come”. 

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