Mat Collishaw is an artist from London. Photography © Fabrice Gagos
1.In your opinion what is the role of a museum?
The artist James Lee Byas was asked to make an exhibition at the National Gallery in London. He chose to leave everything as it was and titled the show ‘Perfect’. I don’t have an agenda for Museums in general, but I do appreciate that each Museum has its own particular niche, and to try and force a specific curriculum on them would be unreasonable.
I think all museums are like lenses that concentrate and magnify the significance of a particular discipline. A well curated exhibition at a Museum is a treat, but it also denies the pleasure of discovering a dusty forgotten relic that may be on display but has been neglected.
I’ve just heard that the Van Eyck exhibition in Ghent won’t reopen and this is tragic, a magnificent opportunity that is unlikely to be repeated in my lifetime. Exhibitions like this are momentous and it’s deeply regrettable that more people didn’t get to see it.
2.What are your favorite museums in the world? Why?
The National Gallery in London because it’s local and I can just pop in and see three paintings and leave. Also Galleria Borghese in Rome because it’s relatively small but is rammed with exquisite jewels.
However, you can find a pearl in any Museum you visit, you just have to wander round and wait for something to intrigue you.
3.How important are social networks in your business? And which platform do you prefer and why.
I would love to spend more time on this but it’s a full time job. I use Instagram occasionally but I don’t even know how to check my messages. I like the ease of scrolling through images and the fact that it’s an image based library of global activity.
4.In particular, due to the coronavirus emergency, how have you changed your business on social networks?
I haven’t changed a thing. I’m editing several videos I shot earlier in the year and I can work with other animators, editors and FX colleagues remotely. I’m happy with digital media’s incorporeal qualities, the ability to share files without leaving the studio is a huge benefit. I wouldn’t call it business, it’s a pleasure.
5.To create greater engagement among museums, artists and professionals, do you have any advice for cultural projects such as #MuseumWeek?
I have no advice. I like exhibitions to be accessible but at the same time I don’t like experiences that are patronising. I think it’s about finding a balance between those two things, accessibility and integrity, which I don’t think is impossible.
I think curators should follow their passions and let the qualities of their interests speak for themselves. If the subject is interesting enough it will arouse enthusiasm. They shouldn’t compromise integrity to accommodate a wider audience.
Interview by Fabio Pariante, journalist
Mat Collishaw (Nottingham, 1966) is a British artist and graduated in 1989 from Goldsmiths’ College in London.
He is one of the leading exponents of YBA – Young British Art and his art is based on sculpture, technology, photography and installations, playing on the ambiguity between shape and content, in which the rebirth of the human being, for the artist, is placed in scientific and aesthetic progress.
Among Collishaw’s most important works, there is Bullett Hole (1988): a large photograph consisting of 15 frames, fragmented like the glass of a stained glass window and was originally exhibited at Freeze, the collective exhibition organized by Damien Hirst in 1988, the same that launched the YBA. The work is currently in the collection of the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Australia.
The artist is based in London.