“The Way of the Shovel: Art As Archaeology”

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
220 East Chicago Avenue
November 9–March 9

Curated by Dieter Roelstraete

Addressing the recent historiographic turn in artistic practices through works made in the last two decades by thirty-three artists, including Joachim Koester, Deimantas Narkevičius, and Hito Steyerl, MCA curator Dieter Roelstraete frames this pervasive interest in countermemory as a critical response to a “cultural pathology of forgetting” that emerged in the post-9/11 Bush era. In addition to gathering examples of laborious archive-based practices (Mark Dion), obsessions with obsolete display technologies (Tacita Dean), and reinvestigations of the after- effects of Communist institutions in Eastern Europe (Phil Collins, Anri Sala), the show will position Robert Smithson as a key model for the artist as researcher. Moyra Davey’s close-ups of the deteriorated surfaces of pennies and LaToya Ruby Frazier’s portraits of abandoned buildings in Braddock, Pennsylvania, meanwhile, will introduce distinctly American perspectives to the paradoxical mode of contemporaneity presented here as “The Way of the Shovel.”