They call it object journalism. In a dingy and dark service alley one block to east of Broadway in New York, for the past ten years, a small gallery has been quietly remaking what it means to collect. The white cubical of an empty elevator shaft can comfortably host three visitors. There, Mmuseumm rolls out the red carpet for a motley crew of trinkets culled from society’s detritus. Like a collection of Chekhov’s guns each comes with its own anecdote and a role to play in a larger story turned exhibition theme. Sometimes, the exhibits themselves are unique as in the case of receipts for the last meal a death row inmate ordered before his execution. Others, such as single dollar notes, are only noteworthy because of the stories they tell. All are neatly arranged on narrow white shelves that line three sides of the walk-in closet. Their display is minimalism par excellence. With an entomologist’s precision, objects are lovingly pinned up on metal tacks like insects or tilted like ancient tablets for easier reading. You can visit the different exhibitions by starting at the top or bottom or anywhere that grabs your attention.
For all the white-gloved museum cosplay, not everything preserved here is real. Upon close inspection you find quite a few “facsimiles” on the numbered shelves, modeled after newspaper coverage: mass murderer Jared Loughner’s credit card that was used to purchase his gun or imagined world leaders’ used tissues. They are illustrations, not spolia. And current news coverage is presumably what describes the collector’s passion best. A few years ago, Donald Trump merchandize, Isis currency and Saddam Hussein souvenirs dominated the display cases. Today, they are joined by items manufactured by modern-day slaves or everyday objects carried by those killed by the police. As such, it’s a never-ending curatorial project-in-the-making.
Mmuseumm, New York City, New York
annual rotation of exhibitions
Curated by Alex Kalman