FRIDAY, APRIL 26
For abstracts from the Undergraduate Panel, click here.
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12:30 – 1:45 Performance & Performative Spaces
Moderator: Josh Franco
Persepolis 2530: Viewing the Modern Ruins at Persepolis
Maria Salva, Binghamton University
This paper will explore the place of Persepolis as a modern preserved ruin, itself created as an ancient site within the context of broad modernization, and its displacement in a contemporary art installation by British artist Michael Stevenson at the 2007 Basel Art Fair.
In order to get at some of the problems that Stevenson’s project suggests, I am looking at some of the recent writing on ruins and the idea of ruins in the context of modernity, especially two edited volumes on the topic, by Julia Hell and Brian Dillon, respectively. Ruins embody a set of paradoxes about time and power, that can have political implications. Ruins represent a society or power group that is gone, but by definition, the ruin survives, a presence to remind us of an absence. Ruins show the collapse of a past, but also point forward: like a vanitas image, ruins tell of the ephemerality of power, and suggest that current powers, too, will find themselves in ruination.
Under the Pahlavis in Iran, much of this paradox was overlooked as Persepolis was utilized as a performance space, suggesting a past glory whose revival was already manifest. Following Talinn Grigor, I interpret this unique situation as following from the process by which Persepolis was, itself, created in its modern form, and for its modern uses, by modern excavation, restoration, and building.
Stevenson’s project, Persepolis 2530, consists of an installation at the 2007 Basel Art Fair, and a book, “Celebration at Persepolis,” which documents the ruins of the tents built at Persepolis by the Pahlavis, and the installation of a replica of one of the tents at the Basel Art Fair, and recounts the 1971 celebration at Persepolis for which the tents were built. I will investigate what it means for these ruins to be replicated (and preserved) in photography, replicated and recontextualized in a contemporary arts setting, recreated as more fragile, more temporary, and in effect, more invisible than the original.