… what does the artist know that seems so difficult to know?
… Archaeology per se it the carrier place within the field of knowledge production of the relationship between people and objects. It is the epistemological scene within which, however tentatively and spectrally, objects summon the past, including a human past, into the present. Insofar as art shares this animation (or reanimation) of the person-thing nexus, it does so with its own anarchéological pulsion, a drive that seeks to unearth, to retrieve, and to display (to stage, to dramatize) without re-covering: without covering things back up with the story named culture.
… Art’s anarchéological function both evokes and revokes the disciplinary practice of archaeology itself. Anarchéologie names an archaeology without end: the perpetual act of re-excavating and re-sorting and re-contextualizing.
… the object form of history, irrupting into the now, brings with it a different kind of consciousness (a bodily consciousness) of how life goes on despite history and of how history — rupture — happens in the midst of life.
… When … in 1910, the Futurists lashed out against the “affected archaeologists with their chronic necrophilia,” or when one of the founders of Dada, Tristan Tzara, proclaimed (in 1918) that Dada stands for “the abolition of archaeology,” these artists were demonizing an archaeology obsessed with the Classical world, fixated on the past as the site for establishing artistic criteria and obstructing any full-bore engagement with the now and the new. They didn’t fathom (as the surrealists would) how the object forms of history could be recast through the waking dream-work of the present.
… Appreciating how art and archaeology converge as the carrier place of the relationship between people and objects entails the recognition that this relationship is, not least, the relationship between human history (the history of the world) and nonhuman history (the history of the earth). Why is the artist digging and digging? What if the archaeological imaginary, or the anarchéologie within it, both responds to historical rupture and anticipates the rupture to come?
[line break added] Shovel in hand, what does the artist know that seems so difficult to know? Simply that, in the midst of the repatriation debates over one artifact or another, the ground (that is, the earth) is always in the midst of filing its own claim, which is to have all the objects back. Call it a claim on behalf of nothing that is almost everything at once.
My previous post from this book is here.