On the occasion of the 55th Venice Biennale, 2013, the Gervasuti Foundation is presenting a solo project by London-based American artist Whitney McVeigh entitled Hunting Song. This constitutes a site-specific installation in one of the Foundation’s adjacent buildings, a former hospice for unmarried women dating back to the 16th century. McVeigh has created a fictional old curiosity shop with a diverse collection of objects from her own ‘collection’ interwoven with ‘found’ objects located on site at the Gervasuti Foundation. These have been carefully selected and painstakingly arranged and ordered. Her own objects have been accumulated from flea markets and junk shops on her extensive travels over the last 20 years and have a profound personal significance to her. They include an old typewriter, artefacts from Syria and Africa, old letters, diaries, ledgers, encyclopaedias, neglected photographs and tintypes from New York and numerous other books, such as a Children’s Treasure House, which all evoke deep memories for her. Some of McVeigh’s own monotypes are also integrated with the other found objects and discreetly mounted in old frames including one that incorporates the cover of a book of vintage sheet music entitled Hunting Song which also provides the exhibition’s title.
McVeigh’s installation reveals her acute observation and attention to detail in her choice and careful arrangement of objects that aptly relate to the Biennale theme, The Encyclopedic Palace. As we increasingly struggle to deal with a constant flood of information, there are continuous attempts to reconstruct memories and realities as well as to hold on to concepts and tangible objects that are considered as fundamentals. Hunting Song explores both personal history and collective memory and alludes to the layering of time and how the histories of found objects (and implicitly those of their previous owners), can transfer a sense of universality to the person encountering them. As part of the human condition we tend to collect objects in order to enhance our sense of identity and thus to feel more connected to the world.
The Gervasuti Foundation is delighted to present an artist whose work reveals a very personal archaeology and a deep affinity with the Foundation’s mission: the preservation and re- evaluation of context and cultural collective memory through contemporary practice.