Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
Read about the project
Image Andreas Schmidt
Location: Challenge of Materials gallery, first floor (no longer on display)
Jordan Baseman was commissioned to create an artwork for Oak Repels Lightning, a temporary art exhibition in the Challenge of Materials and Chemistry galleries in 1998. Baseman was interested in the emotional side of materials, and created Some People Believe, a website and alternative label trail that explored belief systems placed upon materials in folklore, fairytales, religion and superstition. Gathering often astonishing and incredible myths and superstitions from around the world, the artist gave insight into the importance materials play in everyday life and the culture-defining effect they can have. In 20th-century Borneo 'some people believe that gold has a soul'.
Read some of the myths and superstitions from the work Some People Believe
London-based American artist Jordan Baseman's (born 1960) work primarily focuses on belief systems, the motivation of the human spirit and lived experience. Through filming, observing, recording and working with people he creates edited, semi-narrative, poetic, documentary-like films.
Some of the myths and superstitions from the work Some People Believe
Some people believe that cork placed under the pillow at night will prevent cramp during sleep.
Some people believe that copper wire bound around the waist will relieve rheumatism.
Some people believe that an arrow made from lead can kill love in a young person.
Some people believe that putting nails made from iron in all the food within a house in mourning will drive death away from the house.
Some people believe that coffin nails made from silver will ensure that the spirit cannot escape after death.
Some people believe that gold has a soul.
Some people believe that if any object made of tin is brought into a mine then only non-precious metals will be found.
Some people believe that if any glass is accidentally broken during the celebration of a marriage it will mean misfortune to the newlyweds.
Some people believe that if a piece of raw cotton becomes attached to your clothing then you will receive a letter from an admirer.
Some people believe that wool will absorb infection if held next to the skin.
Some people believe that burning leather and then inhaling the fumes on New Year's Eve will prevent misfortune and bring good health for the new year.
Some people believe that epilepsy can be cured by drinking ground human bones.
Some people believe that eating small amounts of wood from a pine tree will make a person immune to gunshot.
Some people believe that the wood from an oak tree will repel lightning.
Some people believe that warts can be transferred to an ash tree by rubbing bacon on the wart and then inserting the bacon underneath the bark of the tree.
Some people believe that the wood from a beech tree will bring misfortune to children if it is brought into the home.
Some people believe that witches and evil spirits congregate under walnut trees.
Some people believe that passing a child through the branches of a maple tree will ensure a long life.
Some people believe that it is unlucky to find a crow's feather.
Some people believe that holy candles must be made from beeswax because bees come from paradise.
Some people believe that holding a piece of coal while carrying out a crime will prevent you from being caught.
Some people believe that diamonds are the product of thunderbolts striking the earth.
Some people believe that bursting a paper bag indoors portends death.
Some people believe that wearing a ruby will allow the wearer to go amongst his or her enemies without fear.
Some people believe that putting a piece of quartz in your mouth and then spitting it out towards the sky during a drought will bring rain.
Some people believe that breaking a coconut on the threshold of a newlywed couple’s house will ensure a healthy marriage.
Some people believe that sprinkling flax seed over children will make them grow faster and stronger.
Some people believe that eating from a bone china plate which is resting on another bone china plate foretells death.
Some people believe that the sowing of hemp seed by a young girl will produce a vision of her future husband.
Some people believe that stones which have a natural hole in them will prevent nightmares if they are hung above the bed before sleep.
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