What everyday objects could hold
archaeological value in the future?

Salt Beyoğlu

November 1, 2011 18.30

Michael Rakowitz
Walk-in Cinema

Artist Michael Rakowitz has been commissioned by SALT to produce an art intervention exploring ideas around how archaeological practice can function within the everyday, in reference to the historical narrative of the exhibition Scramble for the Past: A Story of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire, 1753-1914, opening at SALT Galata on November 22.

Rakowitz spent a month in İstanbul in 2010 exploring the historical sites of the city and the antique shops in Cihangir, discovering what valuable items, random objects and even rubbish had been left behind that allow us to trace and understand different historical periods.

For his intervention in Scramble for the Past, Rakowitz plans to work on three interlinked projects. For one of these, he will invite many people from different generations in İstanbul to select something from their homes, personal collections or daily lives that they feel could hold archaeological importance. This object could be something that expresses living conditions in İstanbul today; the social communities that live here or lived here in the recent (or not so recent) past; and the current tastes, attitudes and economic circumstances of everyday life. If the proposed object is relevant to the project’s conceptual approach, Rakowitz will request to exhibit it in the context of his installation for Scramble for the Past. By introducing daily items and personal ephemera into dialogue with objects and books borrowed from the İstanbul Archaeological Museum and into a contemporary cultural institutional exhibition setting, the value of these borrowed items and their worth will be brought into question, as will the legacy of institutional authority in defining the status of culture and what should and should not be collected and saved.

Participants may choose either to lend objects for the duration of the exhibition through a loan agreement, or to donate them as part of a growing permanent collection documenting people’s archaeological history and the ways we think about memory and the past. All individuals contributing to the project will receive a replica of a 1 Lira Ottoman banknote dating from 1875 in exchange for their generous participation. The reproduced banknote is another element of Rakowitz’s intervention; its historical significance and the reasoning for bringing it back into circulation will also be discussed within his talk at SALT Beyoğlu.

Michael Rakowitz (b. 1973, New York) is an artist based in Chicago and New York City. In 1998, he initiated paraSITE, an ongoing project in which the artist custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation or air conditioning system. His work has appeared in venues worldwide including P.S.1, MoMA, MASS MoCA, Castello di Rivoli, the 16th Biennale of Sydney, the 10th İstanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial 8, Tirana Biennale, National Design Triennial at Cooper-Hewitt, and Transmediale 05. He has had solo exhibitions at Lombard-Freid Projects in New York, Alberto Peola Arte Contemporanea in Torino, and Stadtturmgalerie/Kunstraum Innsbruck. His public project Return was presented by Creative Time in New York in 2006. He is the recipient of a 2008 Creative Capital Grant, a Sharjah Biennial Jury Award, a 2006 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Grant in Architecture and Environmental Structures, the 2003 Dena Foundation Award and the 2002 DESIGN 21 Grand Prix from UNESCO. His solo exhibition The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one’s own was on view at Tate Modern in London in 2010. His recent project The Breakup was presented by Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem in October 2010. Rakowitz is an associate professor in art theory and practice at Northwestern University.

The talk will be held in English.