Archaeology of the Final Decade


Archaeology of the Final Decade (AOTFD) is an ongoing non-profit curatorial platform founded in 2010 that recovers erased histories. The platform identifies, excavates and re-circulates significant cultural and artistic materials that remain obscure, under-exposed, endangered, banned or in some instances destroyed. The retracing and reintegration of these materials into cultural memory and discourse, counteracts the damages of censorship and systemic erasures, and fills in gaps in history and art history. It operates through exhibitions, publications, public programming, talks, university lecturing, and creation of online archives for free public access.

Archaeology does not imply merely a vertical excavation into the origin of things and their raison d’être, but an equally extensive horizontal genealogical investigation (in the Foucauldian sense) – relating laterally across interconnected realities, ranging from the aesthetic and socio-political to the geographic, anthropological, ethnographic, linguistic and spiritual. The methodology analyses the condition and discourse (context) around the emergence of the object. The displacement of the object archive through time and space, and its revitalisation in a new context, activates latent knowledge stored within the object itself and liberates a re-articulation of discourse. Destablisation and deconstruction of the prescribed resolution enforced upon sites of cultural erasure, contestation or trauma facilitates a multiplicity of narratives and the generation of systems of statements. Reinscribing the semantically laden object, is to retrospectively complexify the relational symbolic power systems of culture and politics.


AOTFD regularly collaborates with international art institutions. We have facilitated the following museum acquisitions:

The British Museum, London | 2017
Hengameh Golestan
Untitled (Witness ‘79 series, 1979).
Three gelatin silver prints.
With support from the Art Fund.
Further details here

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles | 2017
Bahman Mohassess
Five mixed media assemblages, works on paper (2006 – 2010).
With the generous support of Shulamit Nazarian.
Further details here

Tate Modern, London | 2016
Kaveh Golestan
Untitled (Prostitute series, 1975-77).
Twenty gelatin silver prints. 
AOTFD research, Recreating the Citadel (2010 – 2016).
With the generous support of Dr. Nina Ansary, Kaveh Golestan Estate and Archaeology of the Final Decade.
Further details here

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles | 2016
Kaveh Golestan
Untitled (Az Div o Dad series, 1976).
Ten internal dye diffusion transfer prints. Vintage polaroids. 
Further details here

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles | 2016
Kaveh Golestan
Untitled (Revolution series 1978-79).
One gelatin silver print.
Further details here

Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris | 2015
Kaveh Golestan
Untitled (Prostitute series, 1975-77).
Twelve gelatin silver prints.
Further details here

Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. | 2015
Hengameh Golestan
Untitled (Witness ‘79  series, 1979).
Seven gelatin silver prints.
Further details here

Tate Modern, London | 2014
Bahman Mohassess
Testa I, II, III, IV, V (1966).
Five gouache works on paper.
Further details here

The British Museum, London | 2013 
Bahman Mohassess
Ten assemblages, works on paper (1993 – 2009). With the generous support of Maryam and Edward Eisler.
Untitled, print (1957). Gifted by Bahman Mohassess Estate.
Untitled, lithograph (1971). Gifted by Bahman Mohassess Estate.
Further details here

The British Museum, London | 2013 
Charles Hossein Zenderoudi
Who is this Hossein the World is Crazy About, 1958
Linocut print on textile.
Funded by CaMMEA with contributions from Brooke Sewell Permanent Fund, Maryam and Edward Eisler and The Farjam Foundation.
Further details here


A selection of recent projects

A Utopian Stage:
Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis (1967-77)

Asia Culture Centre
Gwangju | 13 May – 25 October 2020
Curated as part of the Solidarity Spores exhibition, co-curated by Bojana Piškur; Vali Mahlouji / Archaeology of the Final Decade; Seonghee Kim; Sulki and Min / Tetsuya Goto; Dongjin Seo; and Sungwon Kim

Read AOTFD Press Release

SAVVY Contemporary
Exhibition in the framework of Maerzmusik Festival für Zeitfragen, Berliner Festspiele
Berlin | 24 March – 28 April 2019
An exhibition in three acts: Act I: A Cultural Atlas: The Shifting Sands of UtopiasAct II: The Excavated Archives: Shiraz-Persepolis; Act III: Invocations (a series of contemporary debates, lectures, concerts and performances responding to the Cultural Atlas.

Dhaka Art Summit ’18
Dhaka | 2 – 10 February 2018

Read AOTFD: A Utopian Stage


A Cultural Atlas:
The Shifting Sands of Utopias

Asia Culture Centre
Gwangju | 13 May – 25 October 2020
Curated as part of the Solidarity Spores exhibition, co-curated by Bojana Piškur; Vali Mahlouji / Archaeology of the Final Decade; Seonghee Kim; Sulki and Min / Tetsuya Goto; Dongjin Seo; and Sungwon Kim

Read AOTFD Press Release

SAVVY Contemporary
Berlin | 24 March – 28 April 2019
An exhibition in three acts: Act I: A Cultural Atlas: The Shifting Sands of UtopiasAct II: The Excavated Archives: Shiraz-Persepolis; Act III: Invocations (a series of contemporary debates, lectures, concerts and performances responding to the Cultural Atlas.

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
Moscow | 6 March – 26 May 2019
Exhibited in conjunction with the exhibition Rasheed Araeen. A Retrospective.
A Cultural Atlas is a panorama of the intellectual history of the twentieth century. It reflects utopian and emancipatory intellectual artistic, political, ethical, and spiritual international networks, revisiting the intersection of modernism, art and revolution through radical aspirations of the twentieth century.

Dhaka Art Summit ’18
Dhaka | 2 – 10 February 2018


Recreating the Citadel

Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, Acts 2 & 3
de la Warr Pavilion
Bexhill-on-Sea | 9 February – 27 May 2019
Arnolfini
Bristol | 14 September – 15 December 2019
Curated by Irene Aristizábal, Rosie Cooper and Cédric Fauq
The Recreating the Citadel research-artwork is exhibited in Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance, a timely exhibition focusing on the his/her story of resistance movements and alternative forms of living from a gendered perspective. The exhibition was jointly conceived by Nottingham Contemporary, de la Warr Pavilion, and Arnolfini.

Rohtas Gallery 2 in collaboration with Lahore Literary Festival 2019
Lahore | 22 – 24 February 2019
The research-artwork is an exposé of the erased history of Shahr-e No, the red light ghetto of Tehran, circa 1920-1980, in the context of the cultural revolution and Islamisation of post-revolutionary Iran.

Tate Modern
London | 2017 – 2018
Permanent collection

Read AOTFD: Recreating the Citadel


Baalbek, Archives of an Eternity

Sursock Museum
Beirut | 28 June – 22 September 2019
Curated by Vali Mahlouji, with the support of Association Philippe Jabre and Baalbeck International Festival

Read: Exhibition Catalogue


Witness ’79

The British Museum
In 2017, a set of silver gelatin prints from the series Witness ’79 by Hengameh Golestan were acquired by The British Museum, with the aid of AOTFD. The series witnesses the vast demonstrations of women (students, School pupils, teachers, nurses) against the imposition of the veil in Iran which was first announced on 7 March 1979, on the eve of International Women’s Day.
Read more about the acquisition on the Art Fund website.