Earlier this month, I dug a hole on Two Tree Island, a nature reserve (and former landfill site) nearby Southend on Sea. I dug five feet by five feet and two feet down. I found an assortment of treasures: tile chips, old crisp packets, bits of brick and other building residue. This action was part performance and part archaeological dig. I seek to question how we create narrative, knowledge, and archive, and how the museum functions to cement hierarchies of knowledge.

My finds are literally garbage, however they have no less cultural or social significance than many of the objects one may find in the British Museum. The museum exhibit gives credence and validity to the objects shown and narrative proposed. What do we consider valuable and what do we consider rubbish? It appears to me that truth and value are often conflated, leading to stories that we do not favour being ignored or simply not believed. I think the responsibilities of the artist are in part to present alternative viewpoints and marginalised stories.

James Sirrell