Archaeology of the Final Decade (AOTFD) is an ongoing non-profit curatorial and educational platform set up in 2010, which identifies, investigates and re-circulates significant cultural and artistic materials that have remained 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.

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.

Confronting the controversial Festival of Arts, Shiraz – Persepolis (1967-77) and Kaveh Golestan’s seminal photographic series Prostitute (1975-77) as contrapuntal historical objects, the research poses a wider question about the long-term effects associated with systemic amputations inflicted on cultural memory. 


A selection of recent projects

Re-creating the Citadel

Tate Modern
London | 2017 – 2018
Permanent collection

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.

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 a timely exhibition focusing on the his/her story of resistance movements and alternative forms of living from a gendered perspective.


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

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

SAVVY Contemporary
Berlin | 24 March – 28 April 2019
An exhibition in three acts: Act I: The Shifting Sands of Utopias: A Cultural AtlasAct II: Shiraz-Persepolis: The Excavated Archives; Act III: Invocations

Asia Culture Centre
Gwangju | 13 May – 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


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


The Shifting Sands of Utopias
A Cultural Atlas

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

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
Moscow | 6 March 2019
Exhibited in conjunction with the exhibition Rasheed Areen. A Retrospective.
The Shifting Sands of Utopias – 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.

SAVVY Contemporary
Berlin | 24 March – 28 April 2019
An exhibition in three acts: Act I: The Shifting Sands of Utopias: A Cultural AtlasAct II: Shiraz-Persepolis: The Excavated Archives; Act III: Invocations

Asia Culture Centre
Gwangju | 13 May – 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


Witness ’79

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.
Read more about the acquisition on the Art Fund website