reviews

  • View of “The Way of Shovel,” 2013–14. From left: Moyra Davey, May 7, 2001, 2003; Moyra Davey, Floor, 2003; Moyra Davey, Copperheads 101–200, 2013; Mariana Castillo Deball, Uncomfortable Objects, 2012; Scott Hocking, Rusty Sputnik, 2013. Photo: Nathan Keay.

    “The Way of the Shovel”

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

    MORE THAN MOST EXHIBITIONS, “The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology” aspires to give material form to a theoretical argument. Its curator, Dieter Roelstraete, has long been interested in the relation between art and historical excavation, and the show takes both impetus and title from a polemical essay he penned in 2009. This titular echo raises fundamental questions about the relationship between text and object, writing and digging: There is, indeed, a marked difference between Roelstraete’s verbal and curatorial formulations. Whereas the essay decried what he lamented as art’s “historiographic

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