Contemporary Art and Archaeology: History and Material Culture

Thursday 23 Feb 2023

Sofia Victorino focuses on the dialogue between art and archaeological enquiry.  Departing from the public sculpture of the Lamassu by Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz – installed in London’s Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth in 2018.

Aware of the entangled histories of archaeology and European colonialism, Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz’s work shares something with archaeological enquiry. Rakowitz (b. 1973) investigates objects from the past that contribute to our understanding of history in the present. The metaphor of archaeology points to discussions around memory and forgetting, the spaces left empty or erased, and the scars they leave behind. Drawing on Rakowitz’s The invisible enemy should not exist (Lamassu of Nineveh) which is part of an ongoing project that aims to reproduce thousands of artefacts that have disappeared following acts of looting or destruction in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 – Rakowitz’s public sculpture of the Lamassu (installed in London’s Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth in 2018) is the point of departure for a discussion around contemporary art and archeology.

Sofia Victorino is a researcher and curator, and the former Daskalopoulos Director of Education and Public Programmes at the Whitechapel Gallery (2011-2021) where she led a programme of artists’ residencies and commissions; education and community projects; public programmes and performance. Sofia is on the advisory board for the Documents of Contemporary Art series, co-published by Whitechapel Gallery and The MIT Press. She currently leads the module “Engaging the Public”, MA Curating Art and Public Programmes, London South Bank University. Previously Head of Education and Public Programmes at Serralves Museum of Contemporary art, Porto (2002-2011), her research focus on art, social practice and decoloniality.

Image | The invisible enemy should not exist (Lamassu of Nineveh), 2018 | Photograph ©Michael Rakowitz


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