The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology

Roundtable Discussion Session
2013 Meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group
University of Chicago
9-11 May 2013

Organized with Dieter Roelstraete, Manilow Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

As a prelude to the Museum of Contemporary Art's upcoming exhibition The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology curated by Dieter Roelstraete, this session will bring together a panel of thinkers and practitioners from the arts and archaeology to explore issues arising from the exploration of the interstitial space between art and archaeology. Beyond a shared disciplinary history within art history and antiquarianism, art and archaeology share sensibilities around approaches to material, time, process, performance, liveness, assemblage, fragmentation, decomposition, reconstruction, archive, and representation. Both order things in specific, intentioned ways, creating conditions of possibility for making meaning and sense in the world. Over the last two decades, there has been increasing symmetry between art and archaeology. Within archaeology, scholars and practitioners such as Colin Renfrew (1999; 2005 also see Renfrew et al 2004), Michael Shanks (1991; also see Shanks & Pearson 2001), Tim Ingold (2011; 2007), Ruth Tringham (2007; 2009) and Doug Bailey (2005; 2008), amongst others, have undertaken substantive work exploring the possibilities of a mingling of archaeological and artistic practices. Within contemporary art, there has been a symmetrical interest in archaeological, and more broadly historical, practices (both in aesthetic form, conceptual intent, and epistemological process) as they relate to growing movements in contemporary arts practice around concerns about art as research and research as art - responding to a shared moment, rife with anxiety about remembering that which is threatened by forgetting, revealing that which has been committed to oblivion, liberating and empowering through that which is marginalized by disappearance, and narrating and visualizing the past as an act of resistance.

Featured participants include:

Doug Bailey, Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University

Rebecca Keller, artist and School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Jack Green, Chief Curator, Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago

Hamza Walker, Director of Education and Associate Curator, The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago

Michael Rakowitz, artist and Department of Art Theory & Practice, Northwestern University

Pamela Bannos, Distinguished Senior Lecturer, Department of Art Theory and Practice, Northwestern University

More information on the exhibition.

Exhibition publication →

Tony Tasset
Robert Smithson (Las Vegas), 1995
Silver dye-bleach print
83 x 49 x 3 in. (210.8 x 124.5 x 7.6 cm)
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of the artist and Rhona Hoffman Gallery; and restricted gift of Jack and Sandra P. Guthman, 1995.123
© 1995 Tony Tasset
Image source from the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago website.