Landscape Archaeology | Mariam Ghani + Erin Ellen Kelly | The Art Assignment | Summary and Q&A

December 22, 2016
The Art Assignment
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Landscape Archaeology | Mariam Ghani + Erin Ellen Kelly | The Art Assignment


Learn how artists Mariam Ghani and Erin Ellen Kelly engage with specific sites through research and collaboration to create innovative narratives and artworks.

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Key Insights

  • 😑 Mariam Ghani and Erin Ellen Kelly combine research, physical interaction, and creative expression to generate new narratives about particular sites.
  • 👨‍🏫 Their approach aligns with the contextual school of landscape archaeology, emphasizing the historical, contemporary, and bodily aspects of a location.
  • 👨‍🔬 The artists encourage others to undertake a similar process of researching, experiencing, and creating in intriguing places.
  • 🛰️ Their work challenges traditional landscape art by incorporating criticality, questioning, and engagement with the space's history.
  • 🥰 Landscape archaeology can inspire not only visual art but also literary explorations of the relationship between humans and nature.
  • 😒 Ghani and Kelly's films exemplify the merging of presentness with landscape archaeology, showcasing the dynamics between contemporary uses and historical significance.
  • 🧑‍🎨 The artists' White Sands project showcases the contrast between missile tests and family leisure activities in an otherworldly environment.


ANNOUNCER: This episode of the Art Assignment is supported by Prudential. Today, we're at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which over the past year, has exhibited three video works by the Brooklyn based artists Mariam Ghani and Erin Ellen Kelly. Mariam Ghani works across disciplines, and along with generating a diverse body of work involving instal... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Mariam Ghani and Erin Ellen Kelly begin collaborating?

The artists met several years before collaborating but lacked the resources and time to work together until Ghani invited Kelly to a residency in Germany. They then discovered a shared interest in collaborating and exploring specific sites.

Q: What is the significance of researching the historical uses of a place in their artistic process?

Investigating a site's history helps reveal its past significance, the people who inhabited it, and the events that unfolded there. This historical context informs the artists' understanding of the space and influences their creative process.

Q: How does their physical presence in a location contribute to their artwork?

By spending time in a space, interacting with the environment and the people there, the artists develop a personal relationship with the site. This bodily experience informs their artistic interpretations and narratives.

Q: Why is it important to explore intriguing places now rather than later?

Locations undergo constant change, and delaying exploration may lead to the disappearance of a site or significant alterations. By engaging with captivating places now, individuals can capture their essence before they vanish.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Mariam Ghani and Erin Ellen Kelly are Brooklyn-based artists who work together to explore specific locations, examining their historical uses and contemporary understanding through various mediums.

  • They approach their work through landscape archaeology, investigating the history of a place, the present-day context, and their physical interaction with the site.

  • The artists encourage viewers to choose intriguing locations, research their historical uses, engage with the space personally, and create something based on their findings.

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