The first version of Martin Cox’s Museum of Ennui was presented at Husavik Museum in north eastern Iceland in Summer 2017. It has been conceived during Cox’s 2016 art residency at the Fjuk Art Center, inspired by the many idiosyncratic museums found all over Iceland and by Cox’s own experience working in artist-run spaces and witnessing the power of inventive collaboration around ideas and structures.
The choice of the word “ennui” revives a love for language, history and learning, in peril today in a period when ideas and language are being dumbed down. In such a time, false positivity, aggressive politics, rampant economic pressure and constant distraction have left us without a moment of silent introspection. The Museum of Ennui holds that space for internal, quiet discoveries – an incubator for thought to take flight.
For the first version and now, in its second iteration at The Closet at ShoeBoxProjects, Los Angeles Spring 2018, landscape photographer Martin Cox invited a disparate group of artists to respond to concept of “ennui.” Twenty one artists have contributed to this micro version of the Museum of Ennui with small art works for a small space on the theme of ennui. They include visual, literary and sound artists from the US, UK, Iceland, Canada, India, Germany and France.
At The Closet at ShoeBoxProjects, participating artists include:
Anna Amethyst, Cynthia Minet, Douglas Hill, Gary Edward Jones, Jessie Rose Vala, Julie Murray, Katrina Alexy, Kim Abeles, Kirthana Devdas, Kristine Schomaker, Maggie Lowe Tennesen, Marina Rees, Martin Cox, Nataliya Petkova, Röðull Reyr Kárason, Rose Portillo, Ryan Hill, Sally O’Reilly, Sara Jane Boyers, Scott MacLeod and Thora Solveig Bergsteinsdottir.
For the visitor the museum can serve as permission to detach, to look within while at the same time offering stimulation and nurturing new ideas. For each participating artist, it is a challenge to work on a concept perhaps unconnected to their primary body of work and to connect artists to one another by a common theme.
There is no greater ennui than a loss of connection to our most human need, that of creativity. Ennui is a starting point because discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.