I, an Archeologist


Maya Schweizer HD Video, 13 min, 2014
I, an Archeologist 1 I, an Archeologist 2 I, an Archeologist 3 I, an archeologist 5 I, an archeologist 6
A young archaeologist working as a tourist guide is in a dark space with her light operator and an imaginary group. She would like to rehearse her tour in the Jewish catacombs of Rome. The scene becomes a monologue of the young woman, in which she mingles fragments of the history of the Jewish
catacombs with thoughts on her appearance and instructions to the lighting engineer. The narration hovers between a stage play and the real historical site.
The film shows almost nothing, but instead keeps things all but programmatically in the dark. Yet one does learn something about the Jewish catacombs, whose existence is not too well known in Rome either and that are very difficult to access. The viewers are told that six Jewish catacombs have been found in Rome until now and that a part of this catacomb was discovered by chance in 1918 during renovation work beneath the stables of Mussolini’s residence in the park of Villa Torlonia. One also learns about or at least gains an impression of the framework conditions of historical narratives between tourism and private economy.
In her works, Maya Schweizer is repeatedly interested in public spaces and sites of remembrance. “People come to memorials to see them and maybe touch them, depending on what it is, they walk through them and approach them in order to embrace them. I film in public space hoping to make a part of history ‘visible’ and almost tangible for the viewers.” The film I, an archeologist offers starting points to think about filmic decisions and, in a transferred sense, decisions on what can and cannot be shown at a given moment; and how history offers a different picture depending on the temporary framework conditions of its perception.