The Return of History, 2019
framed archival print, 50 x 36in each
in Paperwork: Administrative Practice in Contemporary Art, International Studio and Curatorial Program, NYC
The Return of History, a series of large format prints adopting the visual language of an archival display, interrogates the ways in which administrative systems and the institutions they are a part of are tied up with the creation and regulation of specific historical narratives and how such narratives shape our relationship to the past, present and future.
Central to The Return of History are 8 images appropriated from the trade catalogue of German office furniture manufacturer Ensslin. The images feature a series of executive office desks, likely produced in the 1970s and 80s. Their names - such as Euroboss, Euroroy, or Euroflex - reflect the optimism for the European project of a bygone era, as well as point towards a Eurocentric ideology that is built on a tradition of Western thought and a culturally sanctioned version of (central) Europe.
By juxtaposing these images with excerpts from newspaper articles and other archival material that depict the current reality of Europe in the throes of Brexit, the surge in populism and Euroskepticism in the wake of the migrant crisis, I aim to overturn their pervasive Eurocentrism. In this sense, The Return of History is situated within a larger body of work that interrogates the constructed and ideological nature of “truth” as presented by an archive, the ways in which archives are embedded in bureaucratic systems, organized according to bureaucratic principles, and serve the institution they are a part of. It aims to interrupt the dominant archive's syntax, in order to emphasize its gaps and to expose the multiplicity of non-linear, conflicting narratives contained within it.