Sara Salamon: Archaeological Excavations One, Two and Three

Archaeological Excavations begin as a mobile public installation appearing as a false promise across Zagreb’s neighbourhoods and slowly moving a metre a day. Over the past three years, they have experienced transformations in different cities and translations to different media and exhibition spaces.

The first ‘digs’ were inspired by an article from The Guardian, Millennia of Human Activity: Heatwave Reveals Lost UK Archaeological Sites, which describes the ironic blossom of English tourism and historical research under the new climate conditions and global warming, which uncover buildings under the green grass.

Can a space be performed? The pieces articulate an unstable atmosphere and tension in relation to the observer, space, objects and materials. The unstable atmosphere refers to the performativity of exhibits and installations, which most often barely visibly perform before an audience. The events outside or at the edge of the ‘frame’, both temporariness and constant flow, provoke in us a mixed feeling of humour and anxiety. Archaeological Excavations deal with ‘promises’ and ‘uncertainty’ of the past and the future – playing with the perception of a missed event through interventions in public space or a gallery.

A display space thus becomes a field of translation of signs taken from public space; inside it, an artistic document abandons testimony. The author then performs translations of translations, pressuring the materials to perform, i.e. to take ‘unattainable’ or ‘opposite’ shapes.

“In her work, Sara Salamon explores media betrayals. ‘Betrayals’ here denote activities beyond or despite the use: and ‘media’ define every object and process serving to transmit potential information or meaning – light, image, echo, body, history. There is a stowaway in every transmission and this surplus (or foundation?) resorts to secretive activities to shape realities we naively call ours. Sara Salamon’s work can be read in the tradition of speculative materialism which will, roughly, claim that our semiotic mappings are simply part of reality and what remains uncoded fundamentally shapes us and our reality. Salamon at the same time introduces a new line of artistic exploration in speculative materialism. By pragmatic semiotic mapping, by mediatisation of reality, we have created a new part of reality disengaged from subordination to our utilitarianism and fantasies of meaning – the medium itself. Our attempts at making reality understandable create new materialities which, independently of us and unbeknownst to us, shape our world.


The dramaturgically crucial point of the work is the moment we pass by the digs for the second time and notice there is something wrong with the scene. However, it is hard to admit that the excavations have moved. The affective register changes. The domestic comfort of paranoia and the appeal of historical belonging are replaced by the uncanny, the shallow horror of dissonance.

Is it me or is it reality?”

(from a text by Marko-Luka Zubčić)

Object automatization associate: Hrvoje Spudić

Sara Salamon, born in Rijeka in 1991, holds an MA in Media Arts and Practices from the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka. She works in the fields of various artistic practices, as a visual artist, director of photography and film editor. In her work she is trying to betray the media. She is inspired by collective wilderness and shifting realities. From 2013 to 2022 she presented her artistic work and collaborative projects at group exhibitions in Rijeka, Sisak, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Graz and Berlin. She was co-awarded for artistic works at 55th Zagreb Salon and 35th Youth Salon in Zagreb. She participated in a residency at the MuseumsQuartier Wien in 2022 and the Bergen Centre for Electronic Art as part of Future DiverCities in 2019.

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