Thanks to a confusion of hashtags on Twitter I just came across another story that somehow relates to my project interest (seems to happen a lot these days). MoMu, which is otherwise associated with ModeMuseum Provincie Antwerpen, has now also become the shortform name (&hashtag) for the newly reopened Moesgaard Museum in Århus, Denmark.
But apparently, MoMu also refers to the Museum of the Mundane, a London and New York based (and agency driven) ‘celebration of everyday design brilliance’. The simple but clever concept is about attaching museum-style labels to mundane urban objects like ATMs, manholes or traffic lights, in order to point to their design history and significance. It is easy to imagine this kind of campaign being instigated instead by a city museum, or perhaps evolving as a grass-root phenomenon, like yarn bombing, and interesting to wonder what kind of things would then have been given attention. What would I put a label on? What would you?
MoMu may be a glorified ad for the branding agency that created it, but it nevertheless raises an interesting point: perhaps it’s less the famous towers or historic districts that define a city, but rather the mundane objects encountered at every street corner. Together, boring objects accumulate to form a richer image of the city than the one you see in tourist brochures.
(Rory Hyde http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/oct/02/best-urban-objects-mundane-bollards-bricks-black-cabs)
The Guardian story also references another project, the miniscule Mmuseumm in New York which presents itself as a ‘modern natural history museum dedicated to contemporary global archeology’ with
an understanding that “as is the macrocosm, so is the microcosm.” The only access to a greater truth is through the individual perspective of a collective gaze. By examining the small things, the vernacular, we are able to look at the big one, life itself, or at least start to see its edges. (http://mmuseumm.com)
This thinking is, again, reminiscent of Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence/Modest Museum Manifesto and also brings to mind The Museum of Important Shit (links go to previous posts about these, with links from there to origin). Together, they show up a kind of pattern of interest in a ‘re-enchantment’ of the mundane, or a belief that the everyday is actually rather enchanting if only we care to see it. This belief is the ‘utopian motif’ mentioned by Gumbrecht (2006) (who references re-enchantment as the antidote to the disenchanted modernity, as diagnosed by Max Weber) – utopian because of the sociological and political idealism that it conveys.
Projects like these, however, attempt to make real the utopian dream, by establishing Foucauldian heterotopias in the form of museums of the mundane, or – to use a concept which I am currently working to formulate, as an extension of Foucault’s terminology, to describe exactly this kind of museum gaze which may also see the other-and-more-ness of everyday objects – by creating heteroscopic peepholes providing an other-view of the everyday.