The Loan Application

A public symposium coordinated by the artists Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum, on the implications of exhibiting the original artefacts from a contested archaeological discovery in a Museum of Contemporary Art.

In 2016 the artists submitted a formal loan application to the Basque Government, in order to mount an exhibition of ancient Roman potshards with inscriptions at Artium, the museum of contemporary art in Vitoria-Gasteiz. These artefacts, discovered at the archaeological site Iruña-Veleia, were the subject of an ongoing controversy, as they were suspected to be the product of an elaborate forgery. Inscribed with what is alleged to be the earliest recorded writing in the Basque language, they have never been exhibited in public and are currently under custody of Bibat, the archaeological museum of Alava, pending legal verdict on the question whether fraud has been committed.

To exhibit the pieces in the museum of contemporary art would require a physical displacement of only 400 meters, yet produce a radical change in discursive context. The authorities denied the request, as anticipated, so the artists invited several guests to reflect on the case and on the absence of the artefacts in the museum. The symposium has been devised as an encounter between artistic, scientific and political sensibilities. Each contributor presented a perspective on the archaeological evidence that moves beyond the false-authentic binary, and invites us to reflect on the implication of the public in the institutional processes that determine the fate of their own material culture.

Organised within the framework of Proklama 8, a program of workshops and events organized by Artium and Azala Espazioa

October 15, 2016, 9:30 – 19:00
Artium, Basque Museum-Centre of Contemporary Art, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Álava, Spain

Saturday 15 Oktober:

  • 10.00-11.00 Introduction by Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum, artists.
  • 11.00-12.00 Presentation by Xurxo Ayán, archaeologist.
  • 12.00-13.00 Reading by Harkaitz Cano, writer.
  • 16.00-17.00 Presentation by Iñaki Martínez de Albéniz, sociologist
  • 17.00-18.00 Presentation of the exhibition proposal. Haizea Barcenilla, curator and art historian and Enrique Martínez Goikoetxea, curator of Artium's collection together with Ane Lekuona, Amaia Carballo y Andere Olaso
  • 18.00-19.00 Conversation between Imanol Agote, director of Cultural Heritage of the Basque Government. and Daniel Castillejo, director of Artium, Museum for Contemporary Art. Moderated by Haizea Barcenilla