chapter  11
12 Pages

‘Do not touch’: a discussion on the problems of a limited sensory experience with objects in a gallery or museum context

Whiling away time in a queue, discussing pornographic images of women that were blu-tacked to the inside of a shipping cargo container. Only then to clamber into a chest freezer, and descend a wooden ladder to a shaft. The shaft (which was scrambled through on all fours) opened out into a cavernous space containing a huge musty smelling earth ‘mammoth’. That was just one element of my experience at Christoph Büchel’s Simply Botiful exhibition (2007).1 Sight, smell, touch, sound and taste (in the accidental consumption of earth as dust!) were all crucial elements of the experience. What would it have been like if the work was only encountered encased within protective glass? What impact would the reduction of the encounter to a purely visual one have had? Did the other sensory information influence how the work was experienced?