Documents: Stock List

The culmination of a Photoworks residency at the Design Council Archive, University of Brighton – the second Photoworks In-Site project – Documents embodies both a critical response to the Archive and suggests the artists’ fascination with the design and utility of objects. Rigorous and playfully inventive the book re-articulates the Archive’s data and re-considers the Design Council’s attempts to shape the visual and material culture of post-war Britain. The book is itself a design classic.

‘Imagine drawing-up an inventory of every object you use in a day, or every thing you own, or every artefact you value. Any list that emerged would feel at best provisional, at worst it would seem like a futile task. And now if you would, pretend that the exercise was to be conducted on a national scale, and that the resulting document would be used to educate and influence popular public taste in the manufacturing and consumption of the indexed items. This is precisely what the Council for Industrial Design instigated during 1949, in an attempt to drag Britain out of the devastation caused by the second world war. The stock list, compiled by various government departments determined selection for the seminal ‘Festival of Britain’ exhibition and became the template for promoting British products the world over. Between these covers, rests the original stock list; an extraordinary poem to materiality, composed by Britain’s postwar ruling class, accompanied by one hundred images of contemporary products, each determined by their arbitrary retail price of one pound.’

– Excerpt from Documents: Stock List – Marysia Lewandowska & Neil Cummings

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