Perry新作被搬到博物馆与其永久藏品同居，并以某种夺宝奇兵式的姿态质疑文明观。门口一辆淡粉与淡蓝杂糅相间的摩托车上镶着泰迪熊形状的神龛与蝶型螺母（这就完满了）欢迎所有来访的参观者：Grayson Perry的最新个展“无名工匠的墓地”（The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman）正在伦敦大英博物馆（British Museum）上演。大门外立着的一件定制佳作向我们明确了一件事：这位2003年透纳奖获奖者并不讨厌他享有的名声。
这出聚众大戏随着走入展厅的脚步继续上演：“你在这儿”（You are Here），一只光滑上釉的翻模瓶印刻着Perry对观者走上向其新作朝圣之路的想象：这句用来描述那些虚荣心强者“看了展览，自己可比这徒有虚名的滥竽充数者高明多了”，那行用来形容因为“推特上满世界都是这家伙的报道”而来参观的观众，这些评论让前来参观这位以制瓶缝衣而臭名昭著的艺术家之观众自动归类，抹除了其他可能的自有原因。
“沃尔瑟姆斯托(英国城市)挂毯”（The Walthamstow Tapestry）带出了展览的核心主题。从展览大多数作品中看似要求高度技巧性的制瓶或挂毯工艺并非出自Perry亲手，而是来自成百上千名受其雇佣的手工艺人。这才是这一展览的真正制作者，他们正是展览标题的来源，也是他们制造了这些永垂不朽之作（piece de résistance）。
作品“无名工匠的墓地”（The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman）占据了中央展厅的尾部。这件庞然大物中雕刻着翻模的巨型铁质棺材型船只，上面吊着许多小瓶子，其中盛满Perry的作品及大英博物馆藏品背后那无数无名手工艺人的血、汗、泪。展厅正中央供奉着一颗具有二十五万年历史的燧石手斧，它作为博物馆馆藏被Perry视作遗物的代表，它并非代表着某种被遗忘的信仰，而是艺术家眼中遗失了的手工艺传统。
显然“无名工匠的墓地”（The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman）的幕后不缺策展人的雄心壮志，这不失为一场令人愉快的展览。机智地将新鲜出炉、常被忽略的手工制品与成百件来自同类或异类文化的文物并列展出。Perry轻车熟路的策展在揭示了人类普世性的同时并未抹去文化差异：最终，我们看上去都一样，但也都光辉荣耀地与众不同。
In a sort of treasure hunt that questions the concept of civilization, Perry’s new works are ensconced among the objects in the museum’s permanent collections
A pastel pink and blue motorbike, complete with a teddy bear shrine and bear-shaped wing nuts, is the exhibit that welcomes visitors to The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, Grayson Perry’s current show at London’s British Museum. Positioned outside the exhibition’s entrance, the custom-built confection confirms at least one thing about the Turner prize-winning British artist; he isn’t afraid of his own celebrity.
This play to the crowd continues with the first work encountered inside the exhibition itself: You are Here, a glazed, stencilled and enamelled pot inscribed with the comments Perry imagines of the visitors make the pilgrimage to his latest offering. From those keen to satisfy themselves that they’re ‘more clever than this celebrity charlatan’ to the people that came because ‘there was such a buzz about it on Twitter‘, the comments leave the visitor disarmed by their own reasons for visiting this show by an artist as notorious for his pot-making as his dress-wearing.
Yet The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman is more than a show about celebrity. Two years in the making, it consists of nearly two hundred objects that Perry has picked out from the museum’s vast collection of over eight million. Their variety hints at its overwhelming diversity, ranging from Buddhist votive offerings to an earring with the ear still attached.
Behind this bewildering array is Perry’s long-held interest in the concept of civilisation. On display is the material culture of what the artist sees as the fundamental components of any culture, be it the contemporary West or Ancient Egyptian: birth, death, magic, pilgrimage, religion, sex and sexuality. Alongside the Museum’s artefacts are thirty new pieces and eight earlier works by Perry that show up the persistence of these ideas in his own oeuvre. Many of these are inspired by the imaginary civilisation of Perry’s own childhood. The god that oversees this realm is Alan Measles, the childhood teddy bear that has carried out all of Perry’s increasingly real adventures, such as the pilgrimage to Germany on the motorbike.
What is most striking about this juxtaposition of Perry’s works with objects from cultures near and far is that they have so much in common. At times this creates a degree of confusion: a curious Georgian-style tortoise-shell bonnet turns out to be not one of Perry’s own creations, but a nineteenth century artefact from Samoa. This cultural similitude could be negatively interpreted as a sign of the homogenising effects of globalisation, but Perry encourages us to see it instead as indicative of the universality of cultures: on one instance, he describes photo albums on today’s smart phones as the contemporary equivalent of ancient Japanese portable shrines. He also uses the exhibition to articulate these cultural connections in his own work; the label for 2009’s Walthamstow Tapestry reveals that it was inspired by the motifs and colour palette of Java Batik sarongs, revealing a new complexity to otherwise familiar pieces.
The Walthamstow Tapestry brings us to the theme that is at the heart of the exhibition. While Perry is a highly skilled potter, the tapestry, like most of his works on display, is not made by his own hands but by the myriad of craftspeople he employs. These are the makers that give the show, and its piece de résistance, its name.
The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman occupies the centre of the exhibition’s final section. It is a towering cast iron coffin ship hung with vials of the blood, sweat and tears of the skilled makers behind Perry’s work and those in the British Museum as a whole. In the centre is a 250,000-year-old flint hand axe from the Museum’s collection, which Perry presents as a relic not of some forgotten religion, but rather what he sees as a lost tradition of craftsmanship.
This rhetoric of loss is typical of much craft-related discourse, yet it is surprising to see it in Perry. On the one hand, his own commissioning of craftspeople to make everything from tapestries to motorbike leathers demonstrates craft’s current vitality. On the other, Perry is normally a reluctant spokesperson for the craft community, adamant on its need to maintain relevance in aesthetic, cultural and technological terms. This is what his own ceramic condemnations of contemporary celebrity-obsessed culture, made with the aid of emails and Photoshop, can be seen to do.
While there is certainly no lack of ego in the curator behind The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman, the show is a delight. Cleverly considered juxtapositions bring alive artefacts normally overlooked when presented alongside hundred of objects of the same type or from cultures far away. Through some adept curating Perry has managed to reveal mankind’s universality without effacing our cultural differences: in the end it seems that we are all the same, and yet all gloriously different.