“Using Artistic Provenance Research to Engage with Difficult Biographies”

Tal Adler, Humboldt University Berlin

Artistic Provenance Research (APR) is a new term that describes the various ways (practices, methods) with which contemporary artists engage with questions of provenance. Biographies, whether of human or non-human subjects, are a core element of provenance research. Artists engaging with provenance might use story-telling, narration, fantasy and documentation, archives and dreams, political and poetic action – to explore and create elaborate biographical dimensions.
Using a few examples from my own work and the work of other artists, I will show how APR can not only enrich and inspire provenance research but also trigger, support, and create new research and the production of new knowledge.

Tal Adler is an artist and researcher at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH) at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. His recent projects at CARMAH – Who is ID8470 (2019-2022, funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung) and Dead Images (2016-2019, part of the project TRACES, funded by the EU Horizon 2020) –engaged with the ethics, aesthetics and politics of collections of human remains. Between 2011 and 2016 he has worked at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna on the artistic research projects MemScreen and Conserved Memories (funded by the Austrian Research Fund). Exploring the politics of memory and display in Austria, he engaged with difficult heritage at marginal and established museums, landscapes, sites of commemoration and civil society organisations. For over two decades before moving to Europe he has been developing methods of collaborative artistic research for engaging with difficult pasts and conflicted communities in Israel/Palestine. He has studied at the Musrara School of Art (Jerusalem), Sam Spiegel Film and Television School (Jerusalem), Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design (Jerusalem) and the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien.

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