Giovanna Petrocchi

Modular Artefacts, Mammoth Remains, 2019

Inspired by the classification and arrangement of ancient art in traditional museums’ collections, I create my own catalogues of artefacts in a time that is in-between the present and the past, the historical and the fictional. By reconfiguring images from different sources, I populate these virtual pages with my own collection of surreal artefacts. The received view of ancient objects is deliberately distorted.

The work aims to question the very idea that culture can be contained by national boundaries and institutions, revealing instead an entity in constant flux, subject to transformative processes of migration and exchange. Some archival images are presented untouched, while others are dismembered or combined with new limbs or partners. Objects become unrecognisable and meanings fragment; presented as floating entities they belong to neither specific time or museum.

My source here is the digital collection of the Smithsonian Institution archives and the existing archival imagery function as a background where I add or remove elements from it. Sometimes I digitally erase all of the details so that I can insert new ones. The pre-existing images were glass negatives depicting historical findings, chronologically numbered from 1 to 5,075. My intervention aims to distort the original information by fabricating a new document in which real data of the artefacts are combined with new visual information.


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