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and so on: Reflections on the Practice of Creative Archeology

  • The Barn 1543 Burden Lake Road Averill Park, NY, 12018 United States (map)

photograph credit: from Leave Home Stay project by Christine Finn

As the title suggests, this is a work-in-progress, but also an attempt to define a continually reflexive practice documented as a change-over-time. It is inspired by a line from a poem, The Thimble, by Seamus Heaney, in which each stanza is an incarnation of the thimble's life or possibility. I began to describe myself as a creative archaeologist in an attempt to investigate and share ways of making that were informed by the past, but were not illustrating it. I mean in the sense that it is about making work - art, photography, film and poetry - which is inspired by places and people and artifacts, but the idea of them as a concept, rather than a depiction. I am drawn to the processes of excavation, such as opening up, scraping back, and observing subtle changes over time, as they are similar to art-making. 

The notion of the palimpsest, layers, ruins and revelations are all concepts familiar in other disciplines, such as psychology and psychotherapy. And most of my work has been about personal engagement with "my" past, as a way of articulating a, sometimes, difficult narrative. Although I also draw on the investigation practice ofmy earlier training as a journalist, my study of archaeology offered a new way of understanding, processing and creating. This life-long dialogue provides me with tools to think and create with, but also to see with. I began to see differently as an artist, after excavating as an archaeologist. I will give examples from my own projects, and those of others, and also the Mill House. And I will suggestthat we can engage with the archaeological process in the dailiness of our creative lives.

Earlier Event: September 18
The Ballad of Cop Connor