Please visit Viktor Wynd's Little Shop of Horrors, also containing Viktor Wynd Fine Art Inc & Viktor Wynd's Academy of Domestic Science at 11 Mare Street, E8, open Wed- Sunday 12-7pm or www.thelasttuesdaysociety.org for more details
Three years in the pipeline with various stalled incarnations, a project that changed every morning, and continues to change, Viktor Wynd's Little Shop of Horrors is a collaboration with Suzette Field & Matthew Killick which opened at 11 Mare Street in September 2009, initially for 6 months, but is still going, from crisis to crisis, welcoming some 3-500 people every week. A project that started half way between theatre and sculpture which metamorphosed into a living breathing thing - a sort of hybrid between a shop and a museum, an academic institution and an art gallery, an installation and a performance. As a sculptural piece the shop lacks a coherent metanarrative, but it's a project perpetually in flux, a sculptural piece like a garden - it grows and changes and needs constant attention and seems to have somehow developed it's own personality and momentum. In the beginning it was to be a bogus curiosity shop, an attack on shops from one who hates shops and shopping, stuffed with incredibly useless and revolting things, an updated version of Reggie Perrin's Grot Shop from The Rise & Fall, somehow crossed with a curiosity shop, staffed by actors who would perform a script on unsuspecting customers, a script that would evolve and change according to the audience, but leave them leaving and revolted, or charmed. But as the project took longer to build it grew and attracted a growing band of supporters so that when it opened it was in fact a bona fide Wunderkabinett replete with Shrunken Heads, gleaming mortuary tables, two headed lambs and more. In the meantime Wynd's passing interest in the absurd, beautiful, uncanny, macabre & erotic became an obsession and be actively began buying, stealing, borrowing & begging an ever larger amount of objects.
The space is now divided into 5 rooms: The Lobby, Viewing Room, Gallery, Lecture Theatre & Museum.
As you enter from the street - opening a door that says "those easily offended by death & decay should stay away - over 21s only - no poor people" you find yourself in the lobby - to your right is a large museum cabinet - the gift shop - containing all manner of wonderful things, coral and skulls, erotica, wind up tin toys, and more; topped by spectacular pieces of taxidermy and human anatomy, to your right is the shop counter - made from a church pulpit that Wynd found abandoned outside Shoreditch Tabernacle years ago and knew would come in useful some day, it has a changing display of what are hoped to be last minute impulse buys - chocolate anuses, dead hummingbirds, poo cards and the like. Above you hang a stuffed crocodile and a mermaid - direct references to classical Cabinets of Curiosities, and lest the point is somehow missed a copy of James Putnam's "Art & Artefact - The Museum as Medium" is prominently displayed. Straight ahead there is a wall with racks of postcards of past and future exhibitions and shop objects and a Gothic Arch surrounded by stuffed crows with an ostrich egg hanging from it - you must pay £2 to enter, in return for which you receive a badge.
The Viewing Room
You then enter the viewing room - a lobby containing an extensive selection of books from independent publishers of the avant garde such as Atlas Press and Dedalus and second hand books, the entomological department - a wall of beautifully prepared and mounted insects prepared by Viktor Wynd, and a small changing exhibition area, mainly dedicated to dead artists such as Hans Bellmer, Hogarth, Leonora Carrington, Piranesi, Reg Butler or whoever else has caught Wynd's eye, from the ceiling hangs an ever changing array of taxidermied flying creatures - from bats and birds to cats and dogs with wings,
You can then go straight into the gallery - see Viktor Wynd Fine Art which then leads into the "office" which is private and rarely enterable as it's used, abused and misused as a store room. The Gallery is transformed into a lecture theatre 2 to 3 times a week and plays host to Viktor Wynd's Academy of Domestic Science.
Your tour of the gallery complete you can now descend to the basement. On the staircase hangs a collection of stuffed game trophies - Kudu, Hartebeest, Warthog, Eland & more, whilst the wall is densely packed with pictures - antique erotica, prints, entomological displays and more. The basement is the soul of the project, painted blood red and lined with museum display cases from The Royal Holloway's Medial Museum, The National Maritime Museum and Asprey's on Regent Street. The cabinets, and indeed every available surface, are crammed with objects with the only criteria being that they amuse or interest Wynd, there is plenty of natural history - everything from bones of the dodo to armadillo handbags - some things fantastically rare and beautiful - such as the enormous ball of hair removed from a cows stomach - others decidedly less so. Human remains feature prominently - shrunken heads, carved head-hunters skulls from Borneo, babies in bottles from the Dresden Anatomical Museum, human skeletons sitting around a table taking tea with a full grown lioness whilst on the table a stuffed giant tortoise nibbles a fossilised tree trunk as furbies watch from up above; Napoleon's Death Mask nestles next to a handkerchief scribbled on by Tracey Emin, next to a fossilised Coelacanth and a copy of The Naughty Nun, an 8 legged lamb from Potters Museum or a skeleton of a red deer being fucked by the skeleton of an African Lion, on the walls hangs a selection of pictures and objects - everything from old master engravings and oriental erotica to modern and contemporary art, and complete and utter, though hopefully fascinating, rubbish.