The Bureau of Found Art Objects

Royal College of Art- End of second year show – Kensington London –The Bureau of Found Art Objects

Artist statement
M…M…My Generation does not worry about dying, but we are concerned with being forgotten and forgetting. In January 2018, RCA’s sculpture department moved from the Battersea site to the South Kensington campus. Since being here, I have been struck by the history and power of the neighbouring Albert Memorial and Albert Hall, both built to memorialise Albert after he died, aged 41. Before he died, he built, what was known as Albertopolis, 87 acres in South Kensington, funded from the profits of the 1851 Great Exhibition, held in Hyde Park. On this site, he built the V & A, the Natural History and Science museums, Imperial College and other specialist schools, including the RCA. 

This led me to thinking about my own memorial and, whether I’d prefer to design, build and witness mine while I was still alive, rather than leave it to others. My memorial, maybe the first of many, is about my second career as an artist and designed to thank those who have inspired, influenced and supported me over the past 10 years. It takes the form of a lost property office, a vehicle to draw people in to collect their found object and an installation that will disappear over course of the show. 

Inspired by the Bureau of Found Objects, in Paris, it explains its name: 

“We don't know if it was lost or stolen, but we do know it has been found.” 

The idea, about the Bureau of Found Art Objects, developed from the studio move and the loss of the foundry and mould-making facilities. This resulted in me considering other ways of researching, memorializing and cannibalising found objects. 
For this current installation, some several hundred objects have been formally matched with owners, by the BoFaO’s specialist collection and identification department. Identified owners have received postcards to say their lost art object has been found and that they should visit the BoFaO during a specified period to claim and collect their object. Any unclaimed object will be offered for sale or barter at the end of the show.

Further objects have not been matched to owners and these will be available for claim and purchase during the show. The lost property office will not be easy to find, will open and close at odd times and will not always appear to be manned by the artist. The RCA cataloging methodology, RCAfit, has been used, which may lead to delays in locating an identified object in the Bureau. 

The future of art will not need the museum, but artists will always need the hardware store.’ (Theaster Gates, from “True Value”, 2016) 

“Art will not always need the lost wax process, but artists will always need the found object”(Head of the BoFaO, 2018)

 R M Miles - June 2018