Coat Check Exchange (proposal)

Proposal for an intervention/performance at art museums around the world.

Visitors to the museum who check in their belongings at the coat-check will be offered a special object in return in place of the usual numbered tag. This object must be carried around the museum while the visitor views the exhibition. When the object is returned to the coat-check the visitor receives their original possessions back.

There will be a variety of objects that are offered, each carefully chosen to gently affect the visitors experience in some way. Examples of possible objects include: a shirt that matches one of the works on display, a portable comfortable chair, a small stone to wear in one shoe, glasses that encourage looking straight ahead, wearable relics once belonging to artists in the show, an extravagant hat, a short pointing stick, a light but cumbersome object, a small meteorite, etc.

The combination of viewer and an unexpected trusteeship of a special object aims to affect in both measurable and subtle ways, an expectation and experience of a visit to an art museum. The object will create a personal experience within an institutional one, that will differ for every visitor. The carrying of the object over the course of the visit will develop a physical and intimate connection with it; a sensation usually necessarily denied in an institution of valuable works of art. This may be experienced as a subtle weight in a pocket, a texture in a hand or a sense of responsibility which develop over the course of the visit. The carrying of the objects might also provoke new ways of seeing the art work, experiencing the museum and interacting with other visitors. These physical and experiential memories will act as a personal thread that unites the myriad experiences, imagery and information that one takes away from a museum visit, both for the participants and for other visitors who see them. This project will be performed in major museums around the world. Objects will vary for each iteration and will respond to the context of the specific museum.

Lenka Clayton, 2013