(Colonial)Archaeology and Contemporary Art

Artist’s colloquium
June 20th, 2017

The artists’ colloquium emerges from the »(Colonial) Archaeology and Contemporary Art« seminar within the »Practice Field Art« program. The seminar focuses on the colonial histories of archaeology in the Middle East and Egypt, and on the relationship between imperialism, capitalism and archaeology. At stake are questions including: How is the object of archaeology constituted? Which economic and power interests were implicated in the archaeology of the 19th and early-20th centuries? And what role is assumed by museums in the current political situation – especially with regard to the war in Syria? Three artists extend this frame and will present the way that they address archaeology artistically. We will discuss the material, historical and economic aspects – and the gendered conditions – of archaeology as a practice of reconstructing »the past« in contemporary art, focusing on artistic means of addressing these different topics.

Simon Wachsmuth will present »Where We Were Then, Where We Are Now?«, an installation which was on view at documenta 12 (2007). It deals with the Apadana relief in Persepolis (Iran) and a mosaic from Pompeii, with a focus on history writing and the question of whose past we relate to when we relate to »the past«.

Mathilde ter Heijne discusses »Experimental Archaeology« (2006 – ongoing) – the title of the work and the name of a practice that is used by archaeologists and criminologists alike in order to retrace and reenact historical processes. Speaking from a feminist perspective, which has been largely absent in archaeological discourses, she and others reconstructed a kiln in order to reproduce prehistoric idols of fecundity and initiated a shamanistic ritual in the Black Forest.

Jan Peter Hammer shows his new film »The Dig« (2017), part of an ongoing artistic research project, »The Art of War« that deals with the illegal trading of heritage. The video focuses on the situation in North-West-Bulgaria, whose archaeological richness has been systematically looted since the downfall of the USSR.


Simon Wachsmuth »Gesten und Ruinen – Vom Sichtbaren und Unsichtbaren«

Mathilde ter Heijne »Experimental Archeology – The Ontology of The In-Between«

Jan Peter Hammer »The Art of War – Archäologie und die Verdrängung des Staates durch nichtstaatliche Akteure«