“Imagine: all your hidden objects from your drawer or your tucked away household items from the loft- which might and will never be of use in the future- are shown in public. Projected against the window for everyone to see: a pleasant idea, a public clean up or a nightmare? The Storeroom/Showroom project undertaken by Belfast-based artist collective PRIME (Charlotte Bosanquet, Alissa Kleist, Tonya McMullan) takes the form of an artistic excavation, whereby the three members of PRIME investigate the objects found in the storeroom adjacent to the gallery.” (Peter Mutschler, 2011)
Storeroom/Showroom began as a proposal to Peter Mutschler, who runs PS2, an experimental city-centre gallery space in Belfast, in 2011. PRIME Collective proposed to artistically archive the gallery storeroom, a space that was filled nearly to the brim with the remnants of past shows: forgotten artworks, discarded paintbrushes, and a plethora of unexpected useful and useless objects. In return, the Collective, with some help from Peter, turned the space into a curatorial ‘hub’, and a meeting place for the collective’s members. This became a year-long ‘curatorial residency’, during which PRIME organised talks, Peer Reviews, workshops, meetings and an exhibition, Converge.
The storeroom was initially exhibited as the collective found it, with a proposal for the Storeroom/Showroom idea displayed next to it.
Once the storeroom had been cleared, images of the found objects were projected onto the gallery’s frosted window as part of a one-night installation at PS2.
The initial work undertaken by PRIME to clear the storeroom consisted of a three-stage process of ‘artistic archiving’:
Stage 1 consisted of carefully removing each individual object from the storeroom ( by methodically working from the front towards the back of the room). Using a computer, each object was allocated a number, and a detailed description of the object was noted, with information about its size, colour, shape etc., describing any interesting or noticeable features. The object was then brought to the first floor landing to be photographed.
Stage 2- Photographing
During Stage 2, each object was placed in a well-lit area with its pre-allocated number clearly displayed next to it. The object was then photographed, and care is taken to ensure that the object was displayed similarly to how it was found in the storeroom. The object was then placed in a queue to be collected and stored.
Stage 3- Storing
The object was given a stick-on label with its pre-allocated number marked on it. It was then brought to a secondary storage space elsewhere in the building where it is placed on a shelf, together with other similar or related items from the storeroom. The object’s number is was then added to a ground plan and its outline was sketched on a second plan showing a frontal perspective of the secondary storage space. There was an area in the secondary storage space allocated for objects thought to be rubbish, broken or of no apparent value (inspected by Peter in order to ensure that the object was indeed of no value!)
Using this three-stage process PRIME created a detailed written and visual inventory of what was in the storeroom, what it looked like and where it was re-positioned for possible future use.