Shifting Sands is the result of an in depth research into the cultural significance of souvenirs in Athens, Greece. In addition, I looked into the value of the original versus the reproduced product. The system is divided into four steps, each attempting to create value to a single commodity: sand. It was great to combine desk and field research; and if you're ever looking for a place to converse with friendly strangers, Athens it is!
"Now the individual can bring value of order to the universe of things."
In this fourth step, the same salesman offers the authentic sand in the form of a souvenir: a sand globe. Encapsulated in time and space to protect its value (for now!).
"A sign of either creativity or crises!" - Arjun Appadurai.
On the excavation sites of the Athenian agora the ancient history of the city emerges to the surface. Sand is delicately removed from the artefacts. It has been transfixed in this location for thousands of years and has literally become intertwined with these historic objects.
2. Sacred Things
"Commodities must not only be produced, material things but also be marked as such." - Igor Kopytoff.
The sand that is taken is compressed and sculpted into statues. These replicas resemble the uncovered artefacts and are placed around the city. The public is given the opportunity to gain cultural knowledge about the objects without having to leave the modern context of the city.
3. Kingly Things
"The exclusive rights to things."
The perceived importance of objects increases when only certain people or institutions have access to them. The statues slowly weather away, albeit a lot faster than the original! Apart from its form, nothing it lost and the sand is collected at the bottom. Not just anybody can come in contact with it. Each region in Athens is assigned a souvenir salesman that takes care of this important task.