Kayla Romberger, Astronaut Ice Cream, cast plaster and powdered pigment, 1.25 x 3 x 3"

Alisha Wessler, Compass
3 x 3 x 5.5"

Kelsey Contemporaries: Kayla Romberger and Alisha Wessler opens March 15 at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. This special exhibition features the multimedia work of two Master of Fine Arts students from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design and Museum Studies Program. The artists explore themes of collection, museological display, and material culture in the context of an archaeological museum. Displayed together, the two artists’ work creates a dynamic dialog between dystopian and utopian views of the relationships people form with objects. Romberger investigates assemblages of items as a response to apocalyptic fear, while Wessler examines the role of collection in dream and memory.

Kayla Romberger’s project, 100 Ways to Avoid Dying, traces the material culture of paranoia. Responding to the underlying structures of the archaeological museum and its framework of excavation, documentation, and display, this site-specific installation exhibits the stuff of survivalists—tin cans, foodstuffs, matches, bullets, and batteries—rendering it as a fictional archive in futility. Produced from a range of handmade and found objects, the work confronts visitors with a series of typologies in material, labor, and potential, a document from a culture of preparation. 100 Ways to Avoid Dying probes the way in which people’s fear of the future—or the unknown—is mediated by objects.

Alisha Wessler’s From Afar It Is an Island employs archaeology as a metaphor for excavation of the unconscious, featuring objects that occupy the indeterminate realm between dream and reality, nature and artifice. It is well known that Sigmund Freud, an avid collector of antiquities, often used archaeology as a metaphor for psychoanalysis. This exhibition, however, goes beyond Freudian excavation of the mind, and ventures into the more speculative field of psychometry, where it is believed that visions of an object’s past can be revealed through physical contact. Using both authentic and pseudo-scientific texts as a point of departure, the exhibition explores the realm of the imagination, evoking curiosity and reflecting on essential human desires to collect, narrate, and interpret. The exhibition questions whether the act of transference, often occurring in psychoanalysis, can also transpire in the visitor’s attempt to reveal the mysterious qualities within ordinary things.

Exhibition Dates: March 15–June 16, 2013
Opening Reception: March 15, 6–9 pm