The Archeology of Melancholy
Exploring themes of melancholy through the act of archaeology, James Dixon will ask us to consider an alternative archaeological approach to understanding the past, present and future of the Bethlem site, its people, and its identity, locally and wider.
Central to archaeology is how people exist alongside objects and within space, and in these and other human relationships there is plenty of room for melancholy; as an interpretation, as a condition, as a result even of how we think with things and therefore a potential outcome of archaeological processes of all kinds. In this mobile investigation Dixon will discuss three scenes. The first is a person holding an object. Any person, any object. How does our encounter with the materiality of things create melancholy in us? Can objects themselves be melancholy? Next is a person sitting alone in a room. Space can mean security and it can be a threat. How do spaces and the way we move in them affect us? Lastly, us, now, here, standing between the past and the future. How can we even begin to think about the enormity of the entire past and future of the world and how can we use melancholy to our advantage in doing so?
- This event includes a walk of the grounds.
About the speaker
James Dixon is a dedicated art-archaeology researcher with interests including ‘visual archaeologies’ and aesthetics, public art, archaeology and performance, and the incorporation of artistic practice in archaeology. He is co-editor of the journal Post-Medieval Archaeology and an Honorary Research Associate in Geography at Royal Holloway University of London. https://jamesdixonarchaeology.com/
Image: Aerial View of Bethlem Royal Hospital, c.1970