By approaching the visual grammar of the modern age (the 20th century) from an archeological point of view – by studying human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture – an alternative, non linear understanding of a modernist society can emerge, starting from the imaginary excavation of a ‘forgotten cultural landscape’.
A scenario inspired by lost ancient civilisations such as (pre-) dynastic Egypt, my work draws a parallel between comparative mythologies and the hierarchical canon that characterised 20th century modern art. Egyptian religion was not static and able to adapt its rules to the needs of the moment, if a city grew in importance, so did the local god, etc.
I am proposing a similar flexibility when ‘excavating’ the remains of modernist ideology.
My works mimic the notion of the ‘original,’ yet they do not pretend to represent or formulate any supposed archaeological find but can be regarded as physical reincarnations of what once was authentic.
However, my work does not start from the physical object itself but rather focuses on the residue of the image, the either printed or digitally reproduced footprint of an artwork. By regarding the visual archive of the 20th century as an archeological site itself it creates a revised context in which a modernist visual grammar, that’s shrouded in mystery, can be reactivated and mapped out anew.
History is never written objectively and truth is defined by context. Not by renewing the image itself, but by reconsidering the context in which it can be read, my works manoeuvre between the physical and the mental, copy and original and fact and fiction, seeking for legitimacy in future days.”
Artists: Thomas Raat