Tracing the (Construction) Site

The expression to “make your mark” refers to leaving one’s trace both physically at metaphorically. Man leaves a trace of his presence through the objects he produces and the buildings he erects, but also through the interactions he participates in and in the relationships he creates both directly and through the work he undertakes. The construction site is at once a place of production and a social site that looks full of life, like a beehive. Through the installation project, Tracing the (Construction) Site (Traces du Chantier), I want to commemorate the investment, the presence and the contributions of those working on the site on a daily basis and also to reflect on the relationship between individuals and an institution that seeks to represent all of humanity up to the present day.

The idea of making ephemeral drawings using dust came to me after a first experience exploring the Museum of Man. During my visit, I noticed a thin layer of dust that covers the floor of the work spaces. This dust combines new material, as masons and labourers cut and sand new interior wall partitions and fixtures, with parts of the old interiors spaces – bits of stone, concrete, and plaster that are over a hinder years old. Working with the dust implies working with the residue of human activity over time.

Using stencils and spray adhesive, I make multiple interventions in the museum; wall drawings that appeared progressively, over time, through the accumulation of dust on various surfaces. These images evolved in harmony with the rhythms of the construction site; depending on the amount of dust in a given area, they appeared and disappeared at various speeds.

The actual images were created from the outlines of the anonymous hands of over 30 constructions workers who agreed to participate in the project. These tracings were used as the basis for vinyl stencils that I used to cover the walls with spray glue, allowing the construction dust-as-drawing-medium to accumulate over time. These modern street art interventions within the museum echo the blown-pigment based handprints common to prehistoric cave art around the world (such as the Cuevas de las Manos archeological site, near the present-day Pinturas River in Argentina). My installation created a link between the people who created those images, for unknown purposes, and the men working on the site of the current museum.

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