AOTFD – About

Founded by Vali Mahlouji in 2010, Archaeology of the Final Decade (AOTFD) is a non-profit curatorial platform which recovers erased histories. The platform excavates and researches histories of nations condemned by social displacement, cultural annihilation or deliberate disappearance. AOTFD engages with accounts of culture which have been lost through material destruction, acts of censorship, political, economic or human contingencies.

A core aim of AOTFD is the identification, investigation and re-circulation of significant cultural and artistic materials that have remained obscure, under-exposed, endangered, banned or purposefully destroyed, and the reintegration of these materials into cultural memory, counteracting the damages of censorship and historical erasure.  

AOTFD brings international attention to artists whose work has been neglected due to historical circumstances and assists cultural institutions in identifying and acquiring these works for their permanent public collections.

AOTFD materials have been acquired by Tate Modern, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Smithsonian Institute and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In 2017-18, Tate Modern dedicated a room to exhibiting materials from the AOTFD project Recreating the Citadel as part of its permanent collection. This became the first room to be dedicated to an Iranian artist (Kaveh Golestan) in Tate’s permanent collection.

The AOTFD exhibition A Utopian Stage at Whitechapel Gallery (2015) was nominated for  Best Exhibition (Alternative category) by the Global Fine Arts Awards (details).

The retracing and reintegration of these materials into cultural memory and discourse counteracts the damages of censorship and systemic erasures, fills in gaps in history and art history and constitutes an act of healthy historical reconciliation.

The research poses a wider question about the long-term effects associated with systemic amputations inflicted on cultural memory.

AOTFD operates through exhibitions, publications, public programming, talks, university lecturing, and creation of online archives for free public access. A Utopian Stage: Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis and A Cultural Atlas: The Shifting Sands of Utopias were recently on display at Asia Culture Centre, Gwangju, curated as part of the Solidarity Spores exhibition, from 13 May – 25 October 2020.

Our guiding objectives are to:

• Promote contemporary visual culture, particularly under-represented practices and practitioners with the aim to fill gaps in art history.

• Facilitate public access to archival and other cultural materials that are under-represented or not in circulation particularly those that have been removed, banned or destroyed.

• Research, document, disseminate and make publicly accessible artistic and cultural materials and resources. Promote access to learning for cultural practitioners and general public.

• Strengthen international dialogue, collaboration and partnership through exhibitions, publications and public events that increase knowledge of the archives, practices and historical materials.

• Foster greater and mutual understanding via artistic practice and exchange.

• Encourage critical and engaging discourses and create opportunities for public interaction, dissemination and enjoyment of the historical and archival material

• Shift perspectives on the wider aspects of alternative modernisms especially from the non- European art historical perspective.

• Partner and collaborate with international institutions in the dissemination of knowledge, information and historical material.

Founder – Vali Mahlouji 

Vali Mahlouji is a London-based art curator, founder of AOTFD, independent advisor to The British Museum and director of Kaveh Golestan Estate. Mahlouji is a member of Art Dubai Modern Advisory Committee and a board member of Bahman Mohassess Estate.

Through AOTFD, Mahlouji works with international and public art institutions and has facilitated acquisitions for the following museums: Tate Modern, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, The British Museum, Smithsonian Institute and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Mahlouji’s exhibition A Utopian Stage at Whitechapel Gallery (2015) was nominated for  Best Exhibition (Alternative category) by the Global Fine Arts Awards. His project Recreating the Citadel produced the first room dedicated to an Iranian artist at Tate Modern (Kaveh Golestan, 2017-18).

Mahlouji’s recent curatorial work includes exhibitions at Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (Rome), Whitechapel Gallery (London), Photo London, Prince Claus Fund (Amsterdam), Singapore International Festival of Arts, Art Dubai Modern, Bergen Triennial, Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool), Dhaka Art Summit ’18, SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin), Sursock Museum (Beirut), Asia Culture Centre (Gwangju).

Mahlouji’s research-artworks have been exhibited at Tate Modern (London), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art (Moscow), Arnolfini (Bristol), de la Warr Pavilion (Bexhill-on-Sea) and Asia Culture Centre (Gwangju).

He has frequently contributed essays and publications to various institutions, including: Guggenheim Museum, New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Photo London, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, Asia Society Museum New York and Yale University Press, National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens (EMST), Sharjah Biennial and City University New York (CUNY).

Mahlouji is a frequent guest lecturer at international institutions, which have included: Goldsmiths University, Central St. Martin’s School of Art, Stanford University, The British Museum, Courtauld Institute, Yale University, Asia House, Asia Society Museum, Aalto University, Kulturforum Berlin, British Film Institute and National College of Arts Lahore.

His upcoming books Prostitute 1975-77 and A Utopian Stage: Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis (published by Afterall Books) are due in 2021.