The real world begins to vanish at the very moment it comes into existence. In representing things, in conceptualizating them, man makes them exist and at the same time he leads them to their demise. What is real is eclipsed by the concept of it. Art survives its own disappearance. The problem is what remains when everything has disappeared. What vanishes -institutions, ideologies, etc.- continues to exert a hidden influence. What vanishes infiltrates our lives.
Jean Baudrillard, Why hasn’t everything disappeared yet? (Pourquoi tout n’a-t-il pas déjà disparu?, 2007)
The Marc Dion’s site-specific piece An Archaeology of Lost Objects involved 18 agents that split to look for the items in different neighbourhoods in Madrid. The collected objects were meticulously wrapped, registered and later on stored in drawers, made especially for this occasion. The installation in Matadero involved 2 cabinets (with 9 drawers each); a map of Madrid presenting the division of particular neighbourhoods and the photos of the agents; a table with a separate drawer for consultation (with a magnifying glass and white gloves) and 2 boxes of separated items in plastic bags underneath.
The work obviously shadows the old-school museological handling of the objects. Each item in a drawer is separated and labelled with a hand-written location of origin. It exercises the Michael Thompson’s Rubbish Theory – items are ‘saved’ from the rubbish category in order to be contemplated upon. Within this art project they gained a status of durable objects. The question is – what happens to them after the exhibition? Have they become a part of a permanent artwork signed by Mark Dion? Will they eventually become part of an art collection and thus stuck in the eternity? Or has the lesson been taken and the artist intends to dissolve the installation and return the objects back on the streets? Which scenario would you prefer?
The Arqueólogica exhibition on contemporary archaeology was curated by Virginia Torrente and is on display at Matadero till 9 May 2013. The above Baudrillard’s quote is part of the introductory text in the exhibition space. The study visit by the Hard Facts team took place on 20 February.