Production Portraits

Exhibit Overview

Designers: Elizabeth Murphy and Krysta Ryzewski (Brown)
Artists: Dennis Braekmans (KU Leuven), Ioanna Kakoulli (UCLA), Elizabeth Murphy, Krysta Ryzewski


This exhibit, displayed at TAG 2010, Brown University, presents eight large-format, two-dimensional photographic portraits illustrating microscopic details of archaeological metals, glass, paint, stone, and ceramics. The concept for this exhibit emerged from a series of professional collaborations and discussions during which we, the contributors, realized that we each maintained a personal collection of images that we favored for their aesthetic appeal, as well as for their archaeological information about production processes. While each of the four archaeologists / contributing artists conduct research that blends archaeological theory with materials science, all are admittedly situated in different locations along the science-humanities / theory-method spectrum of the discipline. These personal art collections are designed to inspire future conversations across and beyond the locational grounds of archaeological practice.

Collected using a variety of microscopic techniques, the portraits began as familiar, conventional archaeometric micrographs of material properties, performance, and structure. In their larger-scale presentation, however, the aesthetic and artistic potential of the images exploit traditional portraiture formats. These portraits frame and visualize unorthodox subject matter from the hard sciences in an intentional play on otherwise invisible vestiges of production.

The images are deliberate manipulations of scale, materiality, and production; they are designed to act as intersections of multiple theoretical conversations, and they are poised to expose, interrogate, and disrupt sets of established relationships and assumptions pervasive in the practice and theory of archaeology. As co-produced and re-produced modes of engagement, the images are simultaneously art forms (the picture) and records of craft processes (the constituents) captured in the archaeomaterials’ microscale features. The outcome is a co-production rooted in the archaeological assemblage, but then reassembled through multiple mediators – archaeological artifacts, instruments, digital images, printed paper, and frames. The series of mediations, which produced these images, and which these images produce, move away from technical depictions and towards more transformative, non-traditional practices of representation.

Production Portraits Bibliography

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