The collaborators

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An exhibition at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, opening next month, draws on the city’s art collections to explore how we attempt to understand the world.

Next month Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery will be hosting a major new collaborative project by internationally renowned artists Tim Etchells and Vlatka Horvat.

What Can Be Seen will present a bold, playful reimagining of the city’s historic museum collections alongside new work by the artists, produced especially for the exhibition.

Drawing from the city’s diverse collection, the show will explore how we attempt to understand the world through history, science, art, narrative and the act of collecting itself. By presenting unexpected groupings of objects from across the city’s collections, alongside a series of similar items and drawings, as well as behind-the-scenes images taken in the museums store, Etchells and Horvat explore new relationships between otherwise unrelated subjects and ideas.

Etchells is an artist and a writer based in London and Sheffield who has worked in a wide variety of contexts, notably as leader of the world-renowned Sheffield-based performance group Forced Entertainment. He has collaborated with a range of visual artists, choreographers and photographers.

Croatian-born London-based artist Vlatka Horvat works across a wide range of forms, namely sculpture, installation, drawing, performance and photography, presenting her work in various contexts – from gallery spaces through theatre and dance festivals to the public realm.

The two artists have collaborated on several projects before, having produced two video works together as well as conceiving and performing together in several live performance pieces. but What Can Be Seen is their first large scale museum-based collaboration.

Visitors to the exhibition will encounter objects and images from archaeology, natural sciences, decorative art, visual art and social history, including pocket watches, biological specimens and Egyptian artefacts, as well as weather data charts, early 20th century puppets and a set of empty picture frames from which the paintings have been removed for conservation.

The show will also include two new series of photographic works produced by Etchells and Horvat, titled No Contextual Information and Card Index (Details). Images comprising these series bring to the foreground the “hidden” processes and systems used by the institution and its curators as they engage in the collecting, cataloguing and tracking of objects in their care.

“We’re delighted to welcome Tim Etchells and Vlatka Horvat to the Millennium Gallery for their first major collaborative exhibition in Sheffield,” says Kirstie Hamilton, Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Museum Sheffield . “Through the new contexts and associations it presents, What Can Be Seen invites the viewer to find new meanings in the objects on display and revaluate the very nature and meaning of a historic collection”.

The show is part of Making Ways, a new programme of exhibitions, residencies and events funded by Arts Council England, taking place over the next three years, which will showcase, celebrate and develop contemporary visual art produced in Sheffield.

What Can Be Seen, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield February 8-May 7. Free entry.