published
published in Journal for Artistic Research
Between 2009 and 2012 I made several visits to Italy to study at the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome, as well as to carry out historical field research in Pompeii, Herculaneum, Rome and Cerveteri. These trips were designed to provide material for writing several essays and developing an installation based on the classical atrium house. Based on historical study and by way of the ancient Roman concept of genius loci, the spirit of place, my reflections on the quality and characteristics of place has led me to the tombs of Rome and Cerveteri and the dwellings of Pompeii. The various differences and interconnections between these two ancient sites of life and death as two extremes have been essential to my research. In this exposition I report on my artistic research.
JAR portal comments: 2
Dora Imhof 05/11/2012 at 09:53

The link between memory and place has been a central focus of interest for both the humanities and artistic production for a long time. Recently, also archaeology as a subject and method has gained new attention both in art and theory (cf. exh. ARKHAIOLOGIA. Archäologie in der zeitgenössischen Kunst, Centre PasquArt Biel, 2011; Knut Ebeling, Wilde Archäologien, Berlin 2012). The proposal is therefore situated in a vital and relevant context. The shifting of context, i.e. the connection of different sites (a house in ancient Pompeii and a part of a metro station in Amsterdam) is equally interesting and might be compared with other art works that work with similar strategies.

One central  aspect of this project is the artistic exploration of an ancient Roman house which will bring about different results and experiences than an classical archaeological study and transform archaeological research and personal exploration into an artistic and urban context.

I suggest to evaluate whether the concept of ‘genius loci‘ is strong enough as a basis for the research, also since several places are involved (the original Casa della Caccia Antica in Pompeii, the Amsterdam underground). The formal and intellectual connections between these two places and the reasons for bringing them together have to be strongly argued. How far does the “meeting of two worlds” reinforce the genius loci, or does it? What happens in this meeting of the two worlds (also for the recipient)? Can this meeting be called a synergy, or can it also have different effects, for instance provoke conflicting experiences? It might be helpful to also explore other concepts of site/place.

Another question concerns the form of the  “total installation” -the term used in the proposal suggests an immersive environment -, also the term Gesamtkunstwerk might be a bit misleading in this context:  how can it both “actualize the genius loci of the atrium house” and take into account the development of the ancient site over a large historical period, the changing uses, representational functions, relations between public and private spheres and hierarchies of the atrium house the project aims to explore? In what form will and can these be presented within the original size reconstruction in Amsterdam?   

Lucie Kolb 05/11/2012 at 16:09

In my opinion the idea of dealing with the problematic of genius loci in photography and installation is a classical problem which is still very relevant. The decision to do so by means of Pompeii is interesting in the context of Clevis artistic practice. Clevis' exposition has the format of a report. Presenting the research and reporting on the research is part of the research itself. Regardless of the fact that the conventions of display play an important role in the process of constituting the research project, I believe that a report within an art research context requires an inherent reflection of its conditions. Through this, one reflects on ones own interpretation, terminology and the art research position, which are inscribed in an individual’s art research practice. As I see it, the potential of making the processes of ones own reading and perception visible is one of reflecting on ones own position and on the conditions in which the utterance is made. This raises questions on the level of reflection on the layout of this exposition, both in terms of the use of JAR's interface and on the level of the conceptual relation between the two texts, and the texts and the photos. In my opinion these questions are not elaborated enough in Clevis' exposition.

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