Psychoarcheology – with Erik Smith, October 15th

Fragmenta invited to discover “Psychoarcheology,” a project in the form of a temporary intervention by artist-in-residence Erik Smith. Drawing on psychogeography and urban archeology, this trans-disciplinary, “psychoarcheological” project is conducted on a field close to the Chapel Ta Loretu, looking out on the airport runway. This site was identified by overlaying a network of “ley lines” onto maps of the island based on the location of existing archeological sites and prominent geological features. The project seeks to produce an altered awareness of the contemporary landscape and its relationship to the ancient past. A modest publication of selected map drawings and documented sites was  presented to the public in addition to the intervention.

Guy Debord defines psychogeography as “the study and manipulation of environments to create new ambiences and new psychic possibilities.” “Psychoarcheology” mines a similar vein but focuses instead on the effects of the past on environments in creating new ambiences and new psychic possibilities. Debord’s view of geography is deeply intertwined with the concept of the dérive, the Situationist practice of passing through urban areas while observing “the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” Psychoarcheology also takes a phenomenological approach to exploring geography, particularly in employing inventive strategies for altering one’s awareness of the surrounding environment, but rather than emphasizing the surface of urban space, it seeks to understand and reveal the depths.

Ley lines are supposed straight alignments of prehistoric temples, megaliths, and significant geological features. Originally associated with ancient trackways or paths in the landscape, some claim that such lines and their points of intersection resonate a special psychic or mystical energy capable of affecting consciousness. Psychoarcheology takes up this phenomenon, mapping the points of intersection between alignments of known Neolithic temples, dolmen, and menhir across Malta in a quest to identify new sites for investigation and excavation. Part science, part pseudo-science, the project employs competing methodologies and ways of interpreting the world, alluding to the limits and blind spots inherent to both and calling into question what is knowable in an age of increasingly quantified experience.


Erik Smith (US) studied comparative literature and art in the US and Italy and has lived and worked in Berlin, Germany since 2003. Selected solo exhibitions include Locus Solus, de Appel Contemporary Arts Centre, Amsterdam NL; Errant Bodies, Berlin DE; Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum, Berlin; DimensionsVariable, Miami FL; Kapinos Galerie, Berlin; Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA. His work has also been presented in numerous group exhibitions internationally including SculptureCenter, LIC, NY; BBB centre d’art, Toulouse, FR; Arsenic, Lausanne CH; Pierogi, Leipzig; Kunstpunkt, Berlin.

FRAGMENTA is open to all public and free of charge.
FRAGMENTA is supported by Valletta 2018 – European Capital of Culture and free of charge.

This event is made possible through the generous support of the Gudja local council. 

1 Comment

  1. Psychic possibilities, Bettina, ist für mich im Text ein Schlüsselwort. Davon gibt es hier in Mexiko noch eine Unzahl, denn das Land ist noch nicht so durchindustrialisiert wie große Teile Europas; auch sind die 10 % Indianerbevölkerung trotz ihrer Diskriminierung mit ihren Kulturen auf vielen Ebenen sehr präsent.

    Also ist Mexiko ein idealer Ort für Psycho-Archäologie. Das Thema paßt ja auch wunderbar in Deine eigene Arbeit. Ich gratuliere Dir, wie eigentlich immer, sehr zu diesem Projekt! Ich schrieb Dir ja mal, das FRAG//MENTE für mich Höhepunkte im maltesischen Kunstleben waren und ich vermisse sie sehr. Dieses Projekt vom Konzept her auch; gerne hätte ich mich mit dem Künstler ausführlich unterhalten. Mal sehen, was es auf seiner Webseite zu lesen gibt.

    Ganz lieb seist Du mir gegrüßt, schneide Dir bitte beim Schneiden nicht in die Finger (ach so, diese Zeiten sind ja vorbei, hatte ich fast vergessen), Michael


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