Below: The Wrong Bodies installation


August - October 2019 'The Wrong Bodies', installation, Bergen Natural History Museum

Above: The World Views Room at the Bergen Natural History Museum. The drawer containing The Wrong Bodies is in the background.


This is a work which I was commissioned to create for the World Views room at the Natural History Museum in Bergen. This is a room of exhibits dedicated to exploring questions of classification in the field of natural history. The drawer, labelled “The Wrong Bodies”, contains dozens of sticky traps, the small cardboard and glue traps that the museum uses to collect, classify and monitor not its specimens, but it’s pests; it’s “wrong bodies”. This act of classification creates a kind of “shadow collection” comprised of the museum’s illegitimate bodily presences: the mirror of its public collection of specimens.


The pests caught in the dozens of traps, disclose the presence of institutionally repressed bodies within the museum’s ordered sanctum, about which the institution ordinarily remains silent in its public discourse.


With each trap carefully labelled to show when and where it was left in the museum, the bodies they collect create a perverse echo of the neatly pinned and labelled specimens in the museum’s official collection. From the tangles of otherwise anonymous body-parts caught in these traps, the museum thus fashions the material for a curious “shadow” collection.


As the sticky traps illustrate, the museum’s need to diagnose its own infestations is what compels it to acknowledge their presence and it seems fitting therefore to put its shadow collection on show using the sticky traps.


Displayed in a small drawer, the exhibit insinuates itself into the museum, putting the museum’s “wrong” bodies on show.  In so doing, completing a transformational process from body to specimen, begun by the museum itself. At the same time, I hope the result remains anomalous to the museum visitor; that the otherness of the drawer’s exhibits is maintained, in contrast to all those that surround them.