My research examines how systems of classification construct knowledge, the cultural implication of what is excluded from classification and the intervention by contemporary artists to account for excluded knowledge. My objectives are to examine how artists reclaim excluded information and objects; to document cases, like the Cairo geniza, that complicate how we conceptualize value and how we process discard; and to investigate the consequences of modernist purification. This research will enhance our understanding of how systems of ordering and classifying produce cultural homogeneity. Building on scholarship by anthropologist Mary Douglas, sociologist Bruno Latour, philosophical theorist Georges Bataille and social theorist Michel Foucault, this project is significant in negotiating the production, categorization and exclusion of knowledge.
In order to understand the concept of excess, its relation to the formation of the archive and the significance of reintroducing heterogeneity into modern institutions, I will study the work of contemporary artists Christian Boltanski, Doris Salcedo, Catherine Bertola and Cornelia Parker.