Performing Objects: Future Archaeologies


Mary Mattingly, Artist — New York, NY

Tricia Fitzpatrick, Head of Science, Cawthra Park Secondary School; ART21 Educator — Mississauga, Ontario


Based on the eco-urban work of artist Mary Mattingly, this experiment involved an in-depth consideration of consumption and waste. Each participant brought an object that was eulogized, and all of the items were bundled together and buried ceremoniously in Central Park. Exploring ideas of environmental loss and ritual with relation to physical objects, this experiment investigated which items we value and those we discard without a thought.


Performing Objects: Future Archaeologies examined forms of environmental loss through personal objects. From land to water, animals, and a human social fabric, everything and everyone is affected by mining, production, and distribution… In order to examine our own rituals associated with consumption and discard, we planned to donate an object to the workshop, write about the object’s pathway, package all of our objects together, and perform a burial in Central Park, a short walk from the Armory Building.

During the months leading up to Creative Chemistries, Tricia Fitzpatrick and I outlined a research plan, performance, and shared website with information on garbology that our group could access long after the day of the event. In advance, I tasked myself with mapping detailed walks to potential burial sites in Central Park and sending Tricia images of possible pathways. Our group would write and share eulogies for specific objects, bundle them together, and then walk to Central Park where we would ceremonially bury them. The walk would include our own tour of New York City’s supply and waste stream.

The day of the event, a handful of intrepid participants braved the snow and cold weather, and sacrificed an object for a communal burial. Dandelion tea, a funeral cake, and hand-written prayer cards outlining our objects entry into and exit from our lives led up to our procession. No one from the Parks Department stopped us or even noticed as we held a formal burial on a Central Park hilltop. On the walk back to the Armory for the closure of Creative Chemistries it was raining, the streets were filled with garbage, and we all felt unsettled, but moved.”

— Mary Mattingly

Saturday, February 21st 2015

2:45 p.m.

Up next: Experiment — Postcard Parlor Games

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