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Jim Sanborn: Plunder

September 20 - October 27

Opening Reception Thursday, September 20 6-8pm

Jim Sanborn has been building science-based installations for many years. From 2000 through 2010 his works Critical Assembly at the Gwangiu Biennale and the Corcoran Museum and Terrestrial Physics at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Denver used self made and purchased genuine artifacts as set pieces in complex installations. The physics related works studied the relationship between pure science and technology. This new body of work draws from his early training as an archeologist and later as an artist following the auction trade.

For several years a crisis has been brewing in public and private antiquities collections, and many collections have ceased to add to their holdings because incidents of murky provenance, repatriations, and questions of authenticity have increased dramatically. The introduction of fakes into the auction market began decades ago, and in the last few years this has become a serious problem for unwitting collectors, dealers and museums.

The works in this installation are not museum shop “replicas” because they are not cheaply mass produced. They are not “forgeries” either because this implies that the pieces are offered for sale as genuine antiquities which they are not. These pieces can however be called “high-end reproductions” or “Contemporary Antiquities“.

Jim Sanborn has gone to great lengths to discover the complex and time consuming art of forging stone antiquities in order to present convincing objects for this installation and to provide an alternative to buyers of looted antiquities.

Working with conservation professionals in the US and master forgers in Cambodia Sanborn has uncovered the process for aging newly carved sandstone works that makes the pieces scientifically and aesthetically indistinguishable from genuine antiquities.

The idea for protecting genuine works from looters is simple; discourage the collecting of looted antiquities by injecting a high level of uncertainty into the buying experience, or offer buyers high-end reproductions: Are the desired objects genuine or high-end reproductions?

In order to dilute the criminal trade in looted objects French antiquities conservation groups have already begun the process by bringing out many of these forgeries from Cambodia so they can be sold legally as expensive high-end reproductions, and buyers are there, buyers willing to purchase Khmer artworks for their beauty, not their age.

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