Me, myself and eye

Museum; THE MUSEUM OF ME THE BARGEHOUSE SOUTH BANK LONDON
Click to follow
WHO ARE you? Set in a battered, cavernous space, the Museum of Me invites visitors to explore this question by interacting with bizarre exhibits and revealing facts and secrets.

I begin by pondering a questionnaire:

"How many people have you smiled at today?"

"Three," I write.

"How many people have smiled at you today?"

"Two or three," I write sadly. "What stars can you see from your window at home. "Mars," I write (OK, it's a planet)."

In the diary zone, a goldmine of evocative texts, I record an image that struck me on the way in: a pigeon resting on a red nest almost worthy of a bower bird. Another nature entry reads: "I got up to let the mice man in and fill the mouse hole with expanding mouse foam."

Reading such disclosures may seem voyeuristic, but then I am making an exhibition of myself. More than I realise.

After writing down a fantasy in the mauve hush of the Shhh room, I look at a framed cicada the size of a wren and assume that it's just a curio.

But this curio is... bugged, with a spy camera, a curator reveals. On a public closed-circuit television set we watch another man stare gormlessly at the cicada, then turn away abruptly as if he hears our laughter. At the end of their journey, every visitor is asked to stick their impressions in a can, to be sealed and exhibited in a collection billed as "a time capsule, a record of people in 1999", to be opened in 50 years.

The Museum of Me is the second in a series of four temporary museums exploring what museums are for, paving the way for a permanent Museum of the River Thames.

The ice sculptor Clare Patey developed the project, and deserves wide publicity for providing a beguiling alternative to the shards-in-cabinets museum of dinginess we all avoid.

The Museum of Me's piece de resistance is perhaps the Dream On arena, where you write down your dream on a card and attach it to the string of a floating balloon.

One "me" dreams of "a perfect life"; another of good sex. Another wants "endless movement and great parties": his card comes off in my hand - I have broken a dream. Furtively, I tie it back on and escape through a wardrobe leading to a different world of feather and taffeta costumes, then try on a different kind of me.

David Wilson

The Museum of Me (0171-401 2255) runs at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London SE1 until 3 October. Admission is free

Comments