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These images record various states of a continuously reimagined and reworked found object that, for Hazewinkel, functions as a prompt to questions concerning the changing meaning and value of materials and the sociocultural implications associated with the trade, traffic and acquisition (by institutional and private collectors) of ancient material culture.
Preliminary reworking processes used by Hazewinkel reference ancient economically motivated sculptural production practices. For example, the practice of gilding stone sculpture which Pliny the Elder describes in Book 33 of Natural History. Hazewinkel's more recent reworkings refers to contemporary processes used by those employed in the production of fakes and forgeries, a practice stimulated by the supply demand of the trade in antique objects. These include various accretive and reductive processes and chemical surface treatments intended to visually age an object.
Some working in the field of illicit excavation deploy other practices to meet the commercial demand for ancient material culture. An extreme example (still sometimes used) is the intentional dismemberment of a recently unearthed figure. This physically violent activity is motivated by the proposition that it is easier to sell fragmented body parts than to offload a complete figure.
Hazewinkel reworks, retitles, re-contextualises, re-exhibits, re-documents and re-publishes this object. With these strategies the artist considers the cultural implications of the global movement and flow of archaeological material and the approaches some institutions take to titling and describing an object; as well as it’s inclusion (or not) in exhibitions, catalogues and other published contexts.
Museums and other collecting institutions at times become unknowingly caught up the illicit trade of ancient material and their responses to such cases (proven or unproven) can manifest in their presentation and publishing practices. This is a complex and slippery terrain, many museums are custodians of collections that were amassed during periods in which acquisition practices, today considered highly questionable, were rife.
This object was discovered and excavated by Hazewinkel from a muddy fluvial deposit on southern end of Isola Tiberina (Rome) after a flood in 2010. Cranial in dimension and form the object was initially thought to be the badly damaged head of an ancient statue (Antique material still occasionally surfaces along the Tiber's banks after significant floods). Archaeologists have since related the form with other parts of the body, the line of a shoulder has been identified, as has the volume of a thigh.
Images 1,2,3,4 record the object following its initial cleaning. Image 5 records the object’s first reworked state. Cleaned, selectively gilded (with silver and aluminium leaf) and titled Untitled (possession: an archaeology of desire) 2010, it was presented on a low circular plinth of muslin, horsehair, wax and timber in Hazewinkel’s solo exhibition Fugitive Mirror: Working With The Marshall Collection, at the British School at Rome (a research centre for archaeology, art history and contemporary art). This was followed by the object’s first published title change in which Untitled (possession: an archaeology of desire) 2010 became Beautiful Impostor.
Image 6 records the next state in the object’s journey through the lifeworld. Eight years after it’s first public presentation the object was materially altered and retitled for inclusion in Hazewinkel’s 2018 solo exhibition Before The Age Of The Museum at Michael Bugelli Gallery, Hobart. In image 6 we can identify previously gilded silver surfaces have been abraded and gold leaf has been applied and abraded. This image records the current condition of the object which has most recently been exhibited and published with the title Collecting Culture (The Remains Of Desire) 2018.
Images 1-4: Andrew Hazewinkel. 5: Claudio Abate. 6: Zan Wimberely