Last month I visited the Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago for a panel on archeological looting with Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute, and Lawrence Rothfield, professor of English at the University of Chicago. “The Past for Sale” is an ongoing research project facilitated by the Collegium, and its goal is to better understand the black market of looted items. In addition, there is the problem of the deliberate destruction of historical artifacts by ISIS.
After the panel I visited the Collegium’s gallery, which was hosting the Salvage Art Institute’s exhibition No Longer Art. The show consisted of damaged pieces of art which were no longer considered worthy of being shown normally. Given the status of the works, the viewers were allowed to touch them, but it still felt too strange to break that taboo. The damage to these items changed them, and yet they were still products from respected artists. Presented informally as catalogued damage they take on a different appearance. Their inscrutable veneer of a finished product is lost and their materials become more apparent.