Preserved for the future

08:46 by Cornelius Holtorf

Cornelius Holtorf contributed with Martin Kunze to the art project “Ineligible” which is currently displayed as part of the exhibition “Creative (Un)makings: Dispruptions in Art/Archaeology” that is curated by Doug Bailey and Sara Navarro and held at the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture in Santo Tirso, Portugal (6 March – 14 June 2020). Ineligible removed archaeological artefacts from the context of an excavation in San Francisco, disarticulates and repurposes them as raw materials in order to address contemporary political and social issues.

Holtorf and Kunze´s work is entitled “Preserved for the future”, and it addresses the global politics of loss and preservation. A shoe from San Francisco was burned reducing it to small fragments of minerals. The ceramic tile contains the photograph of a shadow of the show together with some of its tangible remains. A duplicate was deposited in the Memory of Mankind storage facility at Hallstatt in Austria where it may survive for hundreds of thousands of years.

In an ultimate act of preservation, the shoe of one human who lived a century ago has thus become part of the memory of humankind. To allow this prospect of preservation for the future, the shoe was translated into ashes and a shadow of itself. Ironically, this tile may be the only thing to survive from the excavation in San Francisco in the distant future.

So: has the shoe been lost through the process or preserved?

What will future generations make of this and other legacies of our time?


Cornelius Holtorf
In 2017, Linnaeus University in Kalmar, Sweden, was awarded a UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures. This is one of eight Chairs in Sweden, and the only one within the cultural sector. Cornelius Holtorf, holder of the UNESCO Chair, alongside his team, will continue to generate ideas through this forum.

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