Following its dictionary definition, the purpose of «archaeology» as a science and a methodology is to unearth, study, and preserve human history. As such, this field of research endeavors to define and delineate a historical continuum by analyzing parallels and disparities, in order to classify and characterize human cultures based on tangible artifacts. These objects, discovered intentionally or by accident, from the depths of the earth or from the seabed, stand at the very core of the «archaeological metaphor,» which sets out to draw parallels between the archaeologist's and the artist’s practice. And so, the artistic object is shaped by the meditation on these real objects, and especially by the way they are unearthed. The exhibition Excavation Mark! wishes to turn the spotlight on the growing tendency among contemporary artists to tread in the path of the «archaeological metaphor» as an artistic practice that strives to reveal, preserve and glorify ideas, research subjects, and ideologies through the act of excavating.
This action has a distinctly tangible presence, and at the same time, it has a metaphoric presence that imbues different layers of discovery and unearthing. Alongside spatial metaphors like site, territory, field, uprooting, horizon, and archipelago, in The Archeology of Knowledge Michel Foucault formulated a metaphoric use of the archaeologist’s practice as part of his philosophical examination of layers of knowledge in different disciplines – layers that do not necessarily form a linear sequence. The excavation and arrangement of the findings have become a decisive and multifaceted concept in the dispute with the history of ideas, since the archaeological description is precisely a departure from these ideas and an attempt to shape a completely different history of what human beings have said. In the words of Foucault: “Archaeology is much more willing than the history of ideas to speak of discontinuities, ruptures, gaps, entirely new forms of positivity, and of sudden redistributions.”
The selection of the artists featured the exhibition was based, inter alia, on their practice. The works do not necessarily present the actual archeological artefact, but rather illustrate a metaphoric excavation in the recesses of history and reality, in order to reveal, preserve, and glorify various phenomena, ideas, and ideologies. The artists introduce questions concerning the succession of historical events, questions that reveal fixed and set timelines that often lead to concealment. Their action sets out to unravel all the threads patiently woven by historians by duplicating differences, blurring lines of communication, and trying to make the transitions that more difficult, and thus – more challenging. The distinctiveness of the exhibition Excavation Mark! lies in the central concept that wishes to rethink history and its transmission through the notion of “archeological metaphor,” presented in the form of artistic practice, as well as in the group of Israeli and international artists, who work with diverse disciplines with an emphasis on new media art and technology.
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