The Gift

“Hi, and welcome to the show. I’m Miranda Sawyer and we’ll be talking about material culture, how objects disappear and appear and how they change over time…” In the television studio of financial data and media organisation Bloomberg, a roundtable debate set up by artist Melanie Manchot is in progress. Hosted by writer and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer the debate takes place between Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum; Susanne Kuechler, Professor of Anthropology and Material Culture at University College London; and Roger Robson, Forensic Advisor and Managing Director of Forensic Access. On a conveyor belt in front of them an assortment of objects move past - plants, watering cans, a bird’s nest, string, gloves, roller skates, a vinyl record, headphones, violin strings, a circuit board, reels of yarn, thimbles, scissors, needles, buttons, an iron – the tools and materials of the gardeners, musicians and tailors who work in the nearby City of London. Under discussion is the role and significance of material culture in contemporary life, contrasting the unexpected occupations, and the hidden labour and objects of the City with the intense abstractions of Square Mile trading. The Gift is a new installation for Bloomberg SPACE comprising a four-channel video, photography and a set of objects on plinths by Manchot. The Gift is the final commission for the 2015 series The Homecoming, a programme of four projects at Bloomberg SPACE that explore and respond to the history and architecture of the City of London. The work draws inspiration from the communities that are intrinsic to the City but are also outside its dominant narrative; gardeners from The Friends of City Gardens, students majoring in electronic music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the bespoke tailors of Couch and Hoskin.