What drew you to the Egyptian Galleries?

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.

Raw/Cooked: Lan Tuazon

Part of Lan's installation includes seven “sculptural combines” created to be displayed alongside artifacts within the third-floor Egyptian galleries.

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.

Raw/Cooked: Lan Tuazon

Fragments of feet, including Lan's installation, in the Body Parts exhibition on the third floor.

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.