Text was written for MIMAZINA, a digital community journal developed by Foundation Press for MIMA, Middlesbrough. I was asked to write a response to the question: "what is your favourite possession?"
Reading time 3'
Museum at Home
One of my favourite possessions is a scrapbook containing Mick Jagger pictures that I picked up in a junk shop in Greenwich about 10 years ago. It cost a few quid. The yellowed paper is held together with some string. The person who made the book has obvious skill and the pictures are put together with formal dexterity. Who made it? Where are they now? Are they still obsessed by The Rolling Stones? Someone once said to me that it was made by Jagger’s mum. Perhaps it was put together by rubbery lips himself?
It looks like it’s from the early Eighties, with Jagger at his pinnacle, in the imperial phase. It’s full of pictures of him pouting to the paparazzi and hanging around with glamorous supermodels. I imagine a teenager in Slough sitting on their bedroom floor, dissecting the latest copy of Smash Hits magazine. Records piled in the corner and Sympathy for The Devil on repeat. The images in the scrapbook offer up every available male archetype. Jagger with a full-on beard doing his Jesus impression. Jagger in a tweed suit looking sulky. Jagger with his face to the side, eyes averted looking pensive. Pop star as chameleon; Jagger moving effortlessly between cherubic, bookish and amorous. Who do you want to be today? It’s all here.
The scrapbook is a portal into the imaginative space of pop music. When I leaf through its pages I think about the amount of time it must have taken to make it. I think about the dishes washed and cars cleaned, gathering the pocket money together to buy the weekly and monthly magazines. I think about family and friends, attentively scanning the Sunday supplements with their eyes peeled for a sight of Jagger.
In buying the book I felt like I was rescuing it. By looking at it I feel like I’m reciprocating the care that has gone into making it. I’m a curator and I spend a lot of time looking at art made by other people. I spend a lot of time trying to get into other people’s heads and understand where they are coming from. I probably project too much.
I’m reminded of a work by the American artist Tom Friedman called ‘1000 Hours of Staring’, 1992-1997. It’s basically a blank piece of paper that the artist has supposedly stared at for 100 hours. Has Friedman actually done what he has said? Who knows, but what I love about this work is that it distills ideas of attention and imagination. It’s about art as a portal and about art as a space for dreaming and projection.
I’m a huge music fan and while I never made scrapbooks as a teenager, I would often close my eyes and imagine my own music videos, visualising the music I was listening to. The scrapbook means a lot to me because I think it illustrates the power of art. I think about the importance of The Rolling Stones’ music in this person’s life and how — in making the scrapbook — the person was trying to capture those feelings. I’ll admit it; I’m not even a fan of The Rolling Stones but I love this scrapbook. I’ve been thinking a lot about fandom recently. It’s an uncool word; conjuring a sense of uncritical devotion. As someone professionally involved in contemporary art as a curator and writer I think about how I’m a professional fan in many ways. I’m making exhibitions rather than scrapbooks — waving my arms eagerly at artists until they notice me.