Borderland was an installation in the group exhibition ‘Can We Ever Know the Meaning of These Objects?’ at Gallery 46, Whitechapel in July 2021, which was developed from a small exhibition at the Wessex Gallery, Salisbury Museum of Archaeology (2019-20).

Borderland comprised

  • a selection of items representing aspects of my father’s life and work as a field archaeologist from the last ‘analogue’ generation, incorporating reframed finds from the archive of images, texts and objects he left, traces of professional practice and personal lifetime material;
  • an immersive soundscape (2018/19) of edited recordings taken from Martin Down and Bokerley Dyke, an earthwork that was the subject of his archaeological research;
  • a short slide film (informal fieldwork images /soundscape), 2021

Extract from ‘Substratum’, published in Performance Research 20:3 (2015) ‘On Ruins’:

When my father became an archaeologist it was because (he said) of his father’s obsession with races of the past. Photos show his father beside historic buildings and in prehistoric landscapes. At times he put us children in for scale. In extreme old age my father became paralysed by Parkinson’s disease. He lay directly over the cellar workshop and office into which he had descended for fifty years, and where as a result an archive accumulated. Strewn below his immobile body, a substratum of traces - maps, books, drawings, slides, notes, Dictaphone recordings, collapsed into a disorder that would have saddened but not surprised him.

Bowen (2015) ‘Substratum’, Performance Research 20:3 ‘On Ruins and Ruination’.

The line art drawing included here, ‘End of Time Finds’, from End of Time Finds (Ghost Phase), was taken at 5.36 on Sunday 10 June 2018, a period during which I itemised as much as possible of my dad’s archive before the house was sold. Reading the past (excavation, itemisation etc) involves a process that replicates and folds into its object. Thus excavator and archivist leave traces of their own, and new objects are made.

Borderland (Video & Soundscape)