Contemporary artists have increasingly been delving into archives and basing their work on research, all in the name of seeking and questioning historical truth. Gathering work by a diverse range of international artists to explore the theme of melding archival and experiential modes of storytelling--particularly in the wake of 9/11--The Way of the Shovel showcases this innovative approach through some of the most intriguing art of the past decade. The artworks take various forms--historical accounts, documents, physical and metaphorical acts of excavating and unearthing, memorials, reconstructions, reenactments, and testimonies--while texts by leading scholars and artists present philosophical arguments about the subjects of history and the archive as well as cultural analysis and insight into the "archaeological imaginary." Together, they make The Way of the Shovel indispensable for anyone seeking to understand the forces driving contemporary art.
The catalogue features work by both established and young artists, and thoughtful entries by Dieter Roelstraete, exhibition organizer and Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Roelstraete's opening essay maps the critical terrain, while Ian Alden Russell explores the roots of archaeology and its manifestations in twentieth-century art, Bill Brown examines artistic practices that involve historical artifacts and archival material, Sophie Berrebi offers a critique of the "document" as seen in art after the 1960s, and Diedrich Diederichsen writes on the monumentalization of history in European art. Also included are statements from artists Moyra Davey, Rebecca Keller, Michael Rakowitz, Hito Steyerl, and Zin Taylor.
Hardcover, 328 pages with 80 color plates and 40 halftones, 6.5" x 9.5", Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and The University of Chicago Press, 2013.
The exhibition The Way of the Shovel is presented at the MCA Nov 9, 2013-Mar 9, 2014. Learn more.