This project ‘to curate the university’ was inspired to coincide with The University of Cape Town’s 175th anniversary. The curators wanted to represent the university in all its diversity, drawing together collections of objects housed within it. At the same time, and more importantly, the project sought to subject the process of collecting and exhibiting to scrutiny and to force collections of objects from different disciplines into dialogue with each other. In this way, the exhibition was less about the university’s history than about disciplinarity, classificatory systems and the spaces where disciplines can be encouraged to creatively intersect.
The publication was intended to be neither a book nor a catalogue, but rather a paper cabinet – a curated collection of the images and texts that were assembled in the preparation of the exhibition. As a paper cabinet, its layout depends less on the linear readability of its sequence of pages, and more on the visual delight of its layout and the play between the various taxonomies that govern display and describe the disciplines and curiosities that were represented. What was featured here has as much to do with what seemed important and fascinating to the curators as with the unexpected discoveries that both appealed to individual visual sensitivities and teased and challenged expectations and preconceptions.