Archéologie du Chantier

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“ Archéologie du chantier is a sculptural ensemble made of metal poles for temporary road work fencing cast in a concrete circular base. The gaps made to hold barriers serve as containers for elements molded in artificial resin that contains frozen weed plants collected next to construction sites in Zürich. The work embodies a fascination to experiment with industrial and synthetic / polymeric materials, which is not only based on their material qualities and aesthetics values, but also on what they represent, as symbolic significant in the urban environment. It can be seen as an assemblage of immaterial and material layers, desires and projections interwoven into the materials themselves. Exposing a sacral anatomy of invisible structures and mimics, the work highlights similarities between categorising system of labour and the taxonomy of plants, in a critical fashion (…)

The poles have been dug out of the ground to be transformed into performative structures, a kind of sacral objects that symbolize the current fast urban restructuring. They hold the possibility of talking about the categories and hierarchies they contain in themselves, being fabricated and produced for specific industrial needs. Shifted into a new plasticity, they offers new social stratifications transforming them into unexpected forms of critical archaeology, digging social layers and giving insight into the process of improvements of the urban space by reason, such as expanding city roads. The work is a reflection of how, in the spectrum of labor and plants, some similarities can be seen between the social categories and their projection onto plants, in a context that renders labor visible or invisible, such as the night shifts on construction sites. This installation draws on the artist’s personal memory of evenings of her childhood, when she visited construction sites with her father, as well as the construction workers whose labor is a leftover of industrial working class histories in the landscape of contemporary creative flexible cities. (…)

The artist inserts artificial amber into the steel holders, thus creating a fake archaeology, or artefacts embedding frozen collected plants from building sites in Zurich. Their transparency, together with the warm gold pigment, gives additional ‘glamour’ to the insignificance and uselessness of the weeds. The artificial residue imitates natural amber – a fossilized tree resin, valued as a gemstone and made into a variety of decorative objects and jewelry. The fake archaeological items of Archéologie du chantier presuppose the idea of resurgence, being a metaphor of plants that grow freely as they pop up in-between the small crack in the concrete and asphalt. In this specific work, the artist uses the plants rather as a metaphor, than as botanical knowledge. The work is a critical expression of our ways of seeing and categorizing the natural world, and the way that labor and work are categorized in their turn. The creeping plants show the power of nature to overcome the cities and adapt.

With this sculptural ensemble, the artist aims to turn the big topics into small objects, to cut across the big discourse and fold it into small details in order to shift the way of looking. It is a critical performativity of the fast categorizing glance that contains in itself the whole range of categories and their discriminating boundaries and lack of empathy and recognition within the mechanism of constructing value and exclusion – an archaeological practice that excavates the geological layers of the construction of sociality, like upper, middle and lower classes, and how work, labor, plants are signified by these categories “.

Dimitrina Sevova, Curator, Corner College, Zürich, January 2018

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Wild plants collected next to constuction sites in Zürich, metal poles, metal chain epoxy, gold pigment, concrete.

Group exhibition at Best of Visarte and at Reta 003 in Zürich, Switzerland

Solo exhibition and permanent installation at Kunstverein Wagenhalle, Germany