Filled with over 300 objects including paintings, prints and sculptures, as well as gems, shells, and taxidermy, World Made Wondrous recreates a fictive 17th-century Dutch collector’s cabinet in order to examine the political and colonial histories of European collecting practices in the 17th century. As Europeans assembled their cabinets, they ordered the world in deliberate ways, asserting judgments and hierarchies on the value of natural materials, forms of labor, forms of craftsmanship, as well as human worth, often with dire and deadly consequences. The exhibition will interrogate the underlying agendas and structures that were fundamental to these collections—which are precursors to today’s European and American museums, including LACMA.
The visitor will be led through the exhibition with a digital audio guide that includes commentaries from experts across a wide variety of fields, produced expressly to expand the narratives of each object and their makers. The exhibition benefits from the important contributions of four contemporary artists: Jennifer Ling Datchuk; Todd Gray; Sithabile Mlotshwa; and Uýra Sodoma; whose works, along with their commentaries in the audio guide, provide essential context and reflection on the historical narratives woven through the exhibition.