Excavating Contemporary Archaeology is an exhibition about our common European cultural heritage as interpreted by eight contemporary artists: Sven Augustijnen (1970, BE), Sammy Baloji (1978, CD), Haris Epaminonda (1980, CY), Aziz Hazara (1992, AF), Cristina Lucas (1973, ES), Hwayeon Nam (1979, KOR) Amalie Smith (1985, DK) and Francisco Tropa (1968, PT). Acting like archaeologists undertaking field work, the artists have extracted, selected and evaluated what they believe is worth saving for those who will come after us. Among the recurring themes we find issues associated with the preservation of objects, time, images and culture.
The fate of European cultural heritage has long been determined by museum practices. Certain things are brought into the spotlight. Others are rejected, forgotten, overlooked, or overheard. In Excavating Contemporary Archaeology, the artists put themselves in the museum’s place as they decide what they want to bring into the exhibition. With this project, the institution actively takes a step back and let the artists govern how they wish to present our contemporary cultural heritage. The exhibition is an example of how art can accommodate different and alternative narratives of identity and belonging in the history writing of our global society.
The exhibition marks the culmination of a project created by Kunsthal Aarhus in collaboration with Mucem (Marseille, FR), Point Centre for Contemporary Art (Nicosia, CY) and AIR Antwerpen (Antwerp, BE). Right from its inception in 2018, the project has not only aimed to connect the participating institutions and countries, but also to invite Europeans to rethink the importance of cultural heritage and how we perceive, treat and preserve it through art.