The Way of the Shovel

A seminar about the "historiographical" turn in Contemporary Art, and Contemporary Visual Arts alignment with Archaeology.

27th of April, 2019

Seminar at KMD

Key-Note speaker: Dieter Roelstraete, Belgium

Panel: Ingrid Boook and Carina Hedèn, Marius Engh and Geir Harald Samuelsen



Artists of all times have displayed a taste for re-searching the past in their quest for inspiration, content and

paradoxically also; newness. The cubists looked for inspiration in primitive art, the surrealists used methods from psychoanalysis and psychotherapy to uncover hidden layers in their own psyche. Some recent artists have turned their attention towards long forgotten Stasi archives and yet others, like Mark Dion and our very own project "Topographies of the obsolete" (KMD; UiB), have used models from archaeology as a way of working and thinking and as a frame of mind.

In the words of the theorist, philosopher and curator Dieter Roelstraete, the early twentieth century art have

experienced a "historiographical turn" in it´s way of responding to the world. In his pivotal essay "The way of the shovel", from 2009, he concludes; "the alignment of art and archeology compensates for the one tragic flaw that clearly cripples the purported critical claims and impact of the current historiographic turn in art: its inability to grasp or even look at the present, much less to excavate the future".

In this one-day seminar Dieter Roelstraete will give a lecture based on his essay "The Way of the Shovel", from 2009 and the exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, by the same name from 2014.

Seminar video: