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Between and Mortarboard


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Cadillac Eldorado, Sandy Point Site, Albuquerque International Sunport, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Accession Number
2013/2.500

Title
Cadillac Eldorado, Sandy Point Site, Albuquerque International Sunport, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Artist(s)
Patrick Nagatani

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
1996; printed 2001

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

Dimensions
6 in x 8 in (15.24 cm x 20.32 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Thomas Wilson '79 and Jill Garling '80

Subject matter
This photograph depicts a view looking down into an archeological site. A vertical wall of dirt fills the entire frame of the photograph, and arrayed throughout the composition are various archeological tools: shovels, pickaxes, and sifting screens, as well as various crates, fuel canisters and other unidentifiable mechanisms. In the center of the photograph, partially emerging from the wall of earth, is the form of a car. Still covered in a patina of dirt, the car’s side window is open, making its cab appear dark and tomblike.  The vision conjures up associations of catastrophes, such as the remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum, ancient Roman cities buried under five meters of volcanic ash. The form of the car however—a Cadillac Eldorado, as the artist’s inscription informs us—is an unfamiliar sight in this archeological context.

On closer inspection however, it is evident that the scene is actually a view of a miniature model, an elaborate diorama. This photograph is a part of the series, the Ryoichi/Nagatani Excavations, in which the artist created a  narrative surrounding a fictitious Japanese archaeologist named Ryoichi. By chance, Ryoichi discovers a mysterious set of documents that lead him to various sites of ancient cultural importance around the world. Excavating this locations in secret, Ryoichi’s team discovers buried evidence of an ancient automobile culture that inexplicably parallels our own. Nagatani presents himself as the photographer for these secret excavations, claiming his photographs are the sole evidence of the project's existence. The elaborate, outlandish story reveals Nagatani’s interest in photography’s supposed verisimilitude, and explores the intersection of documented facts and contrived fictions.  

Physical Description
This photograph depicts a view looking down into an archeological dig site in which a buried car is being excavated.

Primary Object Classification
Photograph

Collection Area
Photography

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
archaeology
artifacts (object genre)
automobiles
buried
excavations (sites)
fiction
ladders
scale models
shovels

6 Related Resources

W16 Calvo-Quiros - AMCULT 103 / LATINOAM 103 - Car Culture
(Part of: Teaching American Studies at UMMA)
Cars and Car Culture
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
Transportation
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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