From Freud’s Civilisation and its Discontents to the Indiana Jones films, digging has long been a metaphor for cultural and psychological processes. From tomorrow, archaeology and art will become one when the performer Robert Pacitti curates Dig and Sow, a series of public digs across eastern England.
The man whose biennial Spill Festival has presented the likes of the Italian live artist Romeo Castellucci being mauled on stage by eight Alsatian dogs will collaborate instead with senior bowling teams and scout groups at 205 excavation sites across six counties, in the hope of uncovering hidden treasure. The digs will be part of On Landguard Point, the east of England’s Cultural Olympiad offering and will be conducted under the watchful eye of Dr Carenza Lewis, a Cambridge University archaeologist and Time Team regular.
“Carenza talks about digging as an umbilical link to the past,” says Pacitti. “She predicts some of the things we’ll find, like clay and pipe ware. But it’s also a giant metaphor. I’ve spent my career not making new things but editing a load of stuff that’s already on the table, or in the ground. And in the physicality of the ‘dig’ there is a real sense of performance. It’s as far away from culture-house culture as you can get.”