Deep Deep Down

João Penalva
Mudam Luxembourg, Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg
29 June 2023 - 18 February 2024
Most collections are exhibited only to a small extent. Much of the art very rarely sees the light of day, if ever. But these catacombs are no catastrophe. For better or for worse, they are the norm. Such is the nature of collections, where moments of display are brilliant states of rare exception.
One can try to maximize these states of exception, unearth selected items, bring them to light, curate them as generously as possible. But what if we made the collection’s natural state more obvious instead? Not to mourn its life in the shadows so much as to render it material, tangible, visible, understandable. And sensational. In every sense of the term.
The aim here is to turn this weird, spectacular, luxurious, intimidating invention of European Modernity that we call a public collection into an experience. To go beyond the selective tips of a growing iceberg. In order to offer an homage to the collection as a whole, one needs to prioritize a vast dark landscape over and above the quality of individual work. One must use quantitative criteria instead of thematic or formal ones.