The Hub is a space for epistemologies with subzero gravity. Not only should The Hub allow its participants the opportunity for orbiting off the plane of logical consistency and analytical coherence, it should also be a launch pad for thoughts and modes of dissemination that shoot way past the mark, touching on unanticipated objects for yet unknown reasons.
Anna S. Beck
Museum Southeast Denmark
I probably learnt most about archaeology through experimental archaeology. It has taught me to seek questions instead of answers, to explore alternative perspectives and to enjoy the excitement of going somewhere new and unknown. This has often – both in academic contexts and in bars in the middle of the night – led to discussions of the fundamental question: what is archaeology? In the museum world where I work, though, the exercise is most often the opposite – not to question what we do. Instead, there seems to be a conviction that we have to tell ‘the good story’ in order to sell tickets, get media attention and obtain ‘clicks’ on the internet. In that context, it is easy to fall into a trap of easy explanations, coherent narratives and obvious answers. But that leaves very little space for wonder, exploration and reflections. However, it is also in this conflict that I find much inspiration (and frustration) to explore new ways to approach archaeology.
Jeffrey Lee Benjamin
Columbia University, Department of Anthropology
As an incidental person, I merely aspire to diminution and existential parity with minutiae; the forlorn, forsaken and overlooked companions, (insensibilia) the beings that thrive in the backwaters and cool crevasses as the dusty trudging human form of the self pursues and performs its delusional oblivions. I see archaeology — like art — as a form of friendship. Its embrace of the otherwise is like the knowledge and promise of a lean-to resting in the woods, where friends gather, laugh, and share observations and frailties. Friendship, which, like sensitivity, is a form of quietude that offers a fierce and final defence of the muted, the shouted-down, the tossed aside remnants of being that still quiver with life and love. Life, increasingly less human and more compassionate, as this summer of dragonflies attests. It seems that Everything is alive, every molecule constitutes a subtle redirection, more powerful than steel or concrete. This is a scientific fact that stands aside (like a friend) the fact of poetic reverie. This is an escape into the real.
Council on International Educational Exchange
Archaeology is not just about digging holes, it’s also about acknowledging the holes that will always be there – no matter how many holes we dig. My aim is to set archaeology free from the constant “I want to discover more”, and instead focus on discovering more of what we already have.
In my perspective, archaeology is one of the finest art forms and we need to become better at approaching it like that. We need to be more daring, being brave enough to ask ourselves questions like “what does this objects do to me?” and not just pursuing the superficial meaning of an object in the past tense. I want to give archaeological objects a longer life, and not stop at the short story, but let them live on into our lifetime. In my work my goal is to verbalize the big void that archaeology essentially is; not to drain the void, but to constantly keep it boiling like a volcano that is ready to erupt. I want to discover the dark side of the moon (our objects), while keeping it forever undiscovered.
Independent researcher and artist
My work exists in a tension between the rigours of journalistic enquiry, and a Land of Blurred Edges, where the streams-of-consciousness dowsed by my dyslexic brain overflow as my art practice. Not always at odds with reporting, it sometimes works in dialogue, archaeology at the intersection. My practice is generally site-specific, often ephemeral, sparked by chance words or implausible relationships of people and things in space. I like to move my art, sometimes across the world, and make it again there. My art is risky, just as my stories are left-field, sparked by experience, stumbling upon something or someone or some idea out of place, and it becomes art or the other, or both. I use text, photos, film, sound, poetry, painting, sculpture. I use mud and sand and water and wax with paint and air, and mix my technologies. As I get older I am more comfortable with my outsiderness. It is harder to get funded for these fuzzier projects, but it is an incentive to work with what I have. I am constantly curious, and that costs nothing.
Martin Demant Frederiksen
Aarhus University, Department of Anthropology
My current interest evolves around thing that don’t necessarily fit together, and questions about how to represent them without making them do so. Fluctuations. Decay. Broken narratives. Emptiness. Spectrality. Unwords. Unthings. The pre-fix “un”. Nothingness. Vacancy. And random lists. I am interested in serpentine writing and prone to pick up debris, and in irrelevant details marginal to history. I am not particularly interested in montages, dialectical images and third meanings, but more prone to non-linear decoupage. Sometimes I draw things instead of writing about them or picking them up. Sometimes I forget that I have picked them up, and find them again much later in drawers, moving boxes or pockets. Reviewers have respectively called parts of my work “dark anthropology, “gonzo-anthropology”, “flamboyant post-Marxism” and “contemporary archeology rather than anthropology”. Although they might not have meant it as such, I take all as great compliments.
Marko Michael Marila
Helsinki Universitet, Department of History, Philosophy, Culture and Art Studies
Marko Marila is a philosophically minded archaeologist whose work centres around the themes of speculation and futurity.
His doctoral thesis (University of Helsinki, 2019) is a collection of loosely related notes on a speculative epistemology of archaeology. As such, the thesis aims to promote a degree of sensitivity towards the significance of speculation in the process of archaeological knowledge production.
Marila believes that serendipity is a mode of creativity in and of the world, and that each reading of A.N. Whitehead’s Modes of Thought is emergent of antecedent readings of it. In his postdoctoral research, Marila wishes to delve deeper into the world of art in order to invent empirical methods fit for the purposes of a speculative archaeology.
University of Oslo, Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History
I am an archaeologist. Very much so, in fact. Archaeology and its objects, methods, perspectives, are my background and objective. It is what guides my gaze and what I am constantly intrigued to discover and challenge.
What fascinates me with archaeology is its humble commitment to stuff. To what is left. Unbound to ideas of significance, beauty, value etc. I see archaeology not least as a movement towards things; kneeling down to where they will surface. Strange things, everyday objects, massive objects, details and indefinite fragments, which through archaeological scrutiny are simultaneously unveiled and estranged.
It is that tension between the known and unknown, generated through engagement with tangible remains, that drives my projects.
Tim Flohr Sørensen
University of Copenhagen, The Saxo Institute
In my work, I study and cultivate vagueness, absence and decay, exploring that which is often taken to constitute the very periphery of archaeological knowledge. I have studied this fringe epistemology at significant places, such as cemeteries and ruins; places that are easily identified and difficult to miss. While still working at iconic places, I now direct my gaze in different ways, trying to be susceptible to the things I have otherwise – effortlessly – overlooked at these locales: the tiny, the faded, the indifferent, the incidental, and the traces that thrive on the threshold of non-existence. These traces do not care about their origins, neither do they care about their destination. With time, I have come to realise that it takes quite an effort to overlook the ignorable. This project has been characterised by some colleagues as ‘a useless brain competition on words’, ‘a joke’, and ‘a waste of time’, offering ‘little or no analytical point’. In light of such praise, I become prone to performance anxiety, so I ask for your patience in my pursuit of the useless.
Michael Alexander Ulfstjerne
Aalborg University, Department of Political Science
With a background in anthropology Michael received his PhD from the Department of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies, Copenhagen University. In his dissertational work ‘Un-real Estate’ Michael explored the speculative dynamics and excesses of the so-called modern Chinese ghost towns. This early research experience opened for Michael’s long-standing interest in more ephemeral forms of sociality and banal architectures: prefabricated modules, built-on-budget high-rises, buildings that are not built, generally unwanted or merely imaginatively fabricated. From a deep-seated fascination with the discarded and redundant a parallel fondness has grown of what is otherwise understood to compromise the good governance of ethnographic endeavors: superficiality, thin descriptions, the speculative, incidental, and things that just don’t seem to add up. For these reasons and surely other better ones Michael is honored to become part of the Hub of Speculative Fabulations upon Incidental Observations.
Frida Amalie Bruno Weitling
Museum Southeast Denmark
A few years ago, I had my first experience with contemporary archaeology in an abandoned factory. It was love at first sight. There I stood, in a fragmented landscape amongst things that had been left behind, broken, misplaced, forgotten, disrupted from their original setting, deprived of their intended function and repeatedly put into new relations. I am fascinated with these objects, that are both familiar and inexplicable, and one of my main interests in the field of contemporary archaeology is the encounter between things and people. I seek to minimize the use of ‘conventional’ archaeological methods, instead I am exploring an alternative methodology. I have experimented with archaeological registration by actively using my own presence as an archaeological tool. It resulted in a subjective narrative based on my own sensed experience of objects in a present reality, creating reflected stories and making the sensory, intuitive and emotional experience of the material visible. Participating in the Hub of Speculative Fabulations upon Incidental Observations is an option to work with the abandoned, the weird, the overlooked and to explore these elements of the material world even further.