I recently gave a presentation about one of my current creative art projects involving archaeology, in a session called Containers/Containment at the RAI in London. For some time now I have been photographing the boxes that have been used as storage for archaeological materials. Many of the boxes are quite old and my approach is that they represent a kind of historiography of the discipline within Australia. The boxes are used variously to protect, contain and store, and were often intended as a temporary measure prior to sorting and analysis. In part they demonstrate a kind of improvisational practice in which archaeologists use whatever materials they have to hand, but it also reveals the professional development of the discipline. Collectively the labeling on the boxes reveals a landscape of archaeological sites, people and materials that constitute the history of archaeological practice over the last 50 years.
This is a work-in-progress and the presentation was very useful for getting my ideas out there and for receiving some constructive feedback from other researchers working with containers as well as artists, anthropologists and material culture scholars.
Images: UK Frederick, 2017-2018