Greenville, N.C.

David Ireland

East Carolina University

Art, and culture as a whole, has long enjoyed an uncertain obsession with history. But history is something more than a body of facts or even the understanding that should accompany it. History is itself an enigma that is by nature a process, a mythology, an aura. For all the uses art may make of history, few if any employ its personal effects, rather than its information, in the way that David Ireland does.

Ireland is something of a pseudoarchaeologist and mythmaker of the historically insignificant. It is fitting, then, that the site of his installation The Cafeteria, 1986, at East Carolina University, was a disused room adjoining the school’s archaeology laboratory. This room, with its leaky ceiling and its past history as a cafeteria, was in a state of benevolent neglect and obscurity ideally suited to Ireland’s sensibility, to his random recovery and reinvention of the decaying

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.