The works included in Time Capsule explore archeology as a political and social force. Curator Tami Katz-Freiman has selected artists from various countries who investigate archeology as a practice encumbered by issues of identity, property and heritage. This exhibit emphasizes the significance of the context in which something is exhibited; often in a satirical fashion, these works question the practice that turns objects into artifacts and the consequence of such an action. A catalogue was published on occasion of the exhibition and includes essays by curator Tami Katz-Freiman and Rina Talgam.
Native American multidisciplinary artist Jimmie Durham’s (Germany) work Pocahontas’ Underwear underscores his ironic, parodic attitude toward our glorification of relics from the past. A pair of red underpants adorned with feathers and beads is authoritatively exhibited in a vitrine, in keeping with the tradition of museum presentation.
Gilad Efrat (Israel) depicts politically charged archaeological sites in Israel from a bird’s-eye view, based on aerial photographs used by archaeologists since the late nineteenth century. He selects photographs that capture excavations sites and images of modern ruins.
Carlos Garaicoa (Cuba) alludes to the present-day ruins of Havana in archaeological terms. Since the early 1990s, Garaicoa has focused on clusters of unfinished buildings whose completion was abandoned and through photography, drawing, and installation infuses these structural shells with a new utopian quality.
Silvia Gruner’s (Mexico) work interfaces with the fields of archeology, anthropology, and architecture. In the video series Don’t Fuck with the Past, You Might Get Pregnant (1995) she performs ritualistic acts with fictive pre-Columbian figurines.
John Kindness (Ireland) translates the linear style of classical Athenian vase painting and its mythological motifs into a monumental work directly on the wall of Art in General. Based on the Hydra myth, one of the Herculean labors, his creation alludes to September 11 and the subsequent war against terrorism as well as to Margaret Thatcher’s rhetoric in 1970s Ireland.
John Leaños (CA) questions memory, collective identity, and authorship by presenting an invented biography of nineteenth-century German archaeologist Helmut Mytusmacher, who allegedly explored the roots of northern Aztec migration in the region of Aztlán, in a traditional museum display.
In her Refiguration/Self-Hybridation Precolombiane series, Orlan (France) digitally crosses pre-Columbian archaeological remains with her self-portrait. By combining her mortal flesh with the aged stone of an artifact, the artist comments on decay, aging, and preservation.
Nadín Ospina (Colombia) portrays Mickey Mouse and the Simpsons as humorous figurines carved in stone, ceramics, bronze, and gold to simulate antique sculptures of mythological, pre-Columbian deities.
In her floor installation Backwards Forwards/Linear Strata (2002), Shuli Sadè (NYC) delineates an archaeological excavation within the gallery space. A crisscross of ropes and measuring tapes marks the physical and metaphorical grid of the site. The accompanying video documents a train ride from New York’s Penn Station to Elizabeth, New Jersey and back and the fragments and debris that line the course.
Dina Shenhav (Israel) creates mosaics out of soft foam, using imagery extracted from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By replacing the hard stones of the historical mosaic with soft foam used for mattresses, Shenhav undermines the region’s glorified past, instilling it with a sense of domestic intimacy.
Dimitris Tsoublekas (Greece) digitally manipulates typical Athenian archaeological and tourist landmarks, such as the Parthenon on the Acropolis, to fabricate a new reality. He plants a lawn around the west entrance of the Parthenon, replaces the stairway leading to the Acropolis with escalators, adds another floor and a parking lot, and replaces its marble with luxurious black granite.
For the past three years David Wakstein (Israel) has been creating mosaics in collaboration with a group of youngsters from the unemployment-stricken Israeli suburb of Ofakim. The stories Wakstein conveys in his stone renderings, a medium traditionally celebrated for its decorative properties, tell of the current conflict.