AN AMERICAN photographic artist, who combines ancient cultural art with a contemporary twist, inaugurated his latest exhibition at Lisbon’s Archaeological Museum recently.
Internationally renowned, Stephen Sack, who has already collaborated with London’s British Museum by photographing images and symbols from ancient coins, has now turned his sights to ancient treasures in the Portuguese museum’s collection. Sack has used a collection of rare and unique artefacts, including megalithic clay slates, as the basis of his photographic exhibition. He has captured potent carved images found in pre-historic graves on film, blown them up and treated the images to give them a contemporary feel.
Archaeologists to this day dispute the significance of the clay slates, suggesting they could be representations of death, currency to pay the pagan gods for entry into paradise, idols or even a good luck talisman. It has even been suggested that the slates were an early form of currency, used for batering, and buried alongside their owners to represent their wealth and social status.
Sack, who was invited to work on the ancient Lusitanian artefacts by the museum’s directors, uses the photographic images of these slates as a poetic resource to enable us to experience surprising and unexpected points of view using different textures, geometry and expressions. The original slates are also displayed alongside the treated images, with explanatory texts provided by the museum.
Interviewed by The Resident’s reporter Chris Graeme, the photographer said: “I use objects that have died and bring them back to life. These slate plates were used in graves about 5,000 years ago. They are unique objects, which have died twice: firstly when they went into the grave, and secondly when they were put into the museum.
“Basically, I am resurrecting art, which is what I always do. In the British Museum, I resurrected ancient coins which had been buried for 10 or 20 centuries, only later to re-emerge as magical pieces,” he added.
Sack is interested in the resurrection of objects that can find their place between the material and spiritual worlds. He takes close up shots of the slates where there is a suggestion of some form of being or happening, and captures the veil that separates life from death.
Sack’s work is inspired by sacred geometry, giving rise to the suggestion of some kind of being. By putting contemporary art in the museum, it confuses logical thought – you no longer know what you are seeing as ancient pieces look very contemporary and alive.
Thus, the artist creates a link between the past, the present and hopefully the future. He gives a distant voice from the past, a voice in the present.
What: Keystones by Stephen Sack
Where: National Museum of
When: The exhibition runs until May 10
Contact: 213 620 000