Visiting Artist
October 2002
Patrick Nagatani

Excavations Statement:

In the exhibition Ryoichi/Nagatani Excavations Nagatani employs science to create and validate an alternative past that questions the assumption that time is linear. Working from the field journals of Japanese archaeologist Ryoichi and photographing excavations undertaken by Ryoichi's team, Nagatani presents evidence of a past where a Jaguar automobile was ceremonially buried within the foundations of the observatory at Chichén ltzá in the Yucatan, and a Ferrari emerges from a volcanic shroud at Herculaneum.

The exhibition is composed of color photographs of archaeological sites demonstrating the presence of automotive culture at disparate points in earth's space and time. Photographs of Ryoichi's journal entries, recovered artifacts, site plans, and maps are presented as documentation. The visual material is supported by text panels describing the excavations and providing scientific information such as carbon-dated laboratory results.

Nagatani describes the project: "In 1985, Ryoichi and his team received a set of maps which were interpreted as pointing to sites scattered throughout the world. The sites were in areas with significant archaeological or historical remains...or with monuments to our own technological age.... The archaeologists spent the next fifteen years secretly excavating the sites and then removing all traces of their finds... My field photographs and photographs of recovered artifacts are the only record of Ryoichi's excavation campaign that remains."

"I hope to challenge us to examine the ways in which photography creates, recreates, or supports a particular history," Nagatani said. "Finally, I am interested in beauty, desire, wonderment, possibilities, and an audience that is willing to suspend belief, to use the right hemisphere of the brain as much as the left."


Patrick Nagatani's work has been exhibited internationally since 1976, including at the Art Institute of Boston , Museum of Photographic Arts , San Diego; and the Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England. Numerous books have featured his work including Seizing the Light: A History of Photography by Robert Hirsch (2000), and Photography by Barbara London and John Upton (1998). His work is in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art ; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; Denver Art Museum International Center for Photography, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art ; and Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York. He has been the recipient of many awards including the Polaroid Fellowship and the NEA Visual Arts Fellowship. Born in Chcago, Nagatani received a BA from California State University, Los Angeles, and an MFA from University of California, Los Angeles. He previously taught at Loyola Marymount University and the Art Institute of Chicago, and is currently a professor of art at the University of New Mexico. Nagatani lives in Albuquerque.


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