Maya Schweizer: I, an archeologist

12 March – 12 April, 2014

March 12, 6 – 9 pm

The marks and traces that historical events have left in our contemporary public spaces demand viewers to take a stand. Memorials, whether heroic or glorifying, embody a particular interpretation of past events.
In Maya Schweizer’s film “I, an archeologist” shows a young archaeologist and a lighting technician rehearsing a guided tour through the historical Jewish catacombs of Rome. The archeologist’s presentation remains fragmentary and her narration is interspersed with directions to the technician, who provides only partial lighting. Throughout the film there is never a whole and entire image revealed, it seems as if Schweizer is consciously trying to avoid this. The film shows us that any understanding of history depends on the circumstances of its presentation. At one point the young archeologist unmasks her own role: “I am an actress”. The validity of her interpretation thus becomes less important than the far more general issue of how to experience truth in the context of the present and history, of how to narrate it.
A second film in the exhibition shows the public park of the Villa Torlonia which is built atop of several catacombs. The camera observes and scales the surface, it captures details and long shots from different perspectives. Found footage and contemporary material are superimposed into a portrait of the Villa that never reveals its rationale.
The dialogue between both films in the exhibition suggests that the Villa Torlonia itself is a puzzle piece of history which must be put into place. Maya Schweizer’s works call for acts of contextualisation without providing ready interpretations.
– Arne Linde