One morning in late September, I went to Lan Tuazon’s studio in Bushwick with Pierce Jackson, who is making the videos for Raw/Cooked. Lan was talking us through her sculptural combines, which are now on view in the Museum’s 3rd Floor Egyptian Galleries, seamlessly placed in the same cases as ancient objects.
As she held this small wooden carving of a pair of arms (pictured at left), she began to animatedly recount a myth about Rhampsinitis, a thief, and disembodied arms. I was impressed; she had clearly been reading a lot about Ancient Egyptian culture and seemed to have become immersed in it. I wondered and wanted to ask her: What drew you to the Egyptian Galleries?
Here’s what Lan had to say:
I wanted to learn from the Egyptians. I wanted to see what types of ritual practices they established that distinguished their culture. More selfishly, I wanted to think like an Egyptian sculptor so I could “read” our historical present differently and make artifacts for rituals that don’t yet exist for our time.
My attention was caught by a small fragment of a foot in the Body Parts Gallery. It was made in wood and perhaps because it was both a fragment and a miniature, it was simply perfect. I imagined making sculptures that could somehow sit next to these artifacts. My thoughts were arrested too, with the image of lifting the glass cases and inserting a contemporary sculpture in this frozen moment. It was a Duchampian move on my part to make this simple gesture – moving one thing outside into the preserved space of the cases. It meant moving back in the time that these artifacts were made, a willful art historical amnesia when objects had a lived experience and psychic capacity.