San Francisco

Locating Technology: Raiders and Empires

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you Genevieve Quick’s most recent “Locating Technology” column, a consideration of artist Stephanie Syjuco’s process and practice: “[Syjuco] prompts viewers to consider more broadly the legality and ethics of museums’ collections, and suggests that museums are institutions of cultural appropriation.” This article was originally published on October 27, 2015.

Stephanie Syjuco. RAIDERS: International Booty, Bountiful Harvest (Selections from the Collection of the A____ A__ M_____) (installation view), 2011; digital archival photo prints mounted onto laser-cut wood, hardware, crates; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist and Catharine Clark, San Francisco.

Stephanie Syjuco. RAIDERS: International Booty, Bountiful Harvest (Selections from the Collection of the A____ A__ M_____) (installation view), 2011; digital archival photo prints mounted onto laser-cut wood, hardware, crates; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist and Catharine Clark, San Francisco.

Much of the history of museum collections is related to the concentration of wealth and power of empires, and more recently corporate monopolies. While museums take great care in contextualizing the aesthetic, cultural, and historical significance of their artworks, they often omit most of their object’s acquisition histories. These backgrounds, extending from antiquity to present, would most likely include emperors and profiteers, along with their contemporary counterparts: the business tycoons that museums name as donors. InRAIDERS: International Booty, Bountiful Harvest (Selections from the Collection of the A____ A__ M_____) (2011) and Empire/Other (2013–ongoing), Stephanie Syjuco alludes to the questionable acquisition of museum artifacts. In these projects Syjuco harnesses technologies of distribution and reproduction—the web, photography, and 3D scanning and printing—to create objects that reveal the tangled history of colonization and cultural hybridization. Syjuco’s web-sourced imagery and 3D manipulations create imperfect objects that declare their simulation while entering into the same economic exchange system as the artifacts that they reference.

Read the full article here.

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