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Artist: Christine Finn
Where: Marfa, West Texas
When: September/ October 2017 coinciding with Chinati Weekend/Made in Marfa

Trace: Marfa is a work that explores the residual by investigating what visitors leave behind in Marfa West Texas. The artist, Christine Finn, who has travelled to all fifty American states, lived and installed work on both coasts, will situate Marfa in the context of the natural and built landscape in the Chihuahuan desert. The artist, also an archaeologist and journalist, will engage all three practices to inform the making of the work. In part it develops an earlier inquiry, at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, in 1994, when she gathered evidence of contemporary ritual practice carried out by visitors to the National Park. [1]

In a similar fashion Finn will survey Marfa to see what traces remain of visitor activity. This will be documented as photographs, and collected, where portable, to be exhibited locally, and online. This intense scrutiny of the ground will pair with a hunt for other ephemeral traces in the night sky, the phenomenon known as the ‘Marfa Lights’. This connects with her on-going eleven year project, “Under the Rays of the Aurora Borealis: Sophus Tromholt’s work re-found”, her new rendering of the 19th century Danish artist’s drawings. [2] In a final work, she will project these images at sites in the Marfa area.

Trace: Marfa also follows the artist’s participation in the conference: “On the Trace: Passing, Presence, and the Persistence of the Past” in Copenhagen [3] last year where, as a creative archaeologist, she reflected on traces in her former family home in England [4]


Christine Finn is a practising artist and worked as a print and broadcast journalist before studying archaeology and anthropology at Oxford, continuing there to a doctorate on archaeology and poetry, Past Poetic, (Duckworth, 2004). Since the publication of Artifacts: an archaeologist’s Year in Silicon Valley (2001, MIT Press) she has made several BBC radio programmes about old technology and creativity and the archaeology of the digital age, including Tales from the Digital Archive, and It’s Big and It’s Beautiful: the Rise of Retro Tech. Finn is also an Edgie at

Several of her site-specific art works in the UK, US, and Europe, have links to pre-digital technology, including Overlooked, which featured a collaboration with the estate of the musician, Nick Drake, in which the re-mastered vinyl of his Pink Moon was played on the Drake family’s old record player.

Finn is a regular contributor to the BBC’s flagship radio programme From Our Own Correspondent and has reported for the Sunday Times in the UK, the Guardian, and Wired. She is a former Fellow and Visiting Fellow at the Reuter Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford, where she began new works centered on the pre-digital newsroom, coining the name “Lead to Air” to describe the trajectory of news technology. She launched this at the arts, letters & numbers residency in Upstate New York, with a new artwork/performance inspired by old newsroom technology, and collaborative process, in sound, word, and action. For this multi-layered durational work Finn sat at a desk in an empty barn typing for six hours on a vintage Royal typewriter, onto a roll of continuous paper, while listening on headphones to the audio of another six-hour durational work, “A Lot of Sorrow”, by the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, and Brooklyn-based Ohio band, The National. The music alone was heard in a neighbouring building. “Lead to Air” was a tribute to the work of collaborative technology and the creative process. The performance coincided with the first Sunday of the new president and administration of the USA.

Selected Recent Works

Trace: Marfa residency/exhibition/installation
Coyote Walk: Art itinerancy with Dillon de Give the trail used by coyotes to and from NYC.
Lead to Air: Durational performance/artwork ALN residency, NY, USA.

‘Chance Ecologies’: Art/archaeology installation Matthias Neumann Queen’s Museum, NYC, USA
‘On the Trace’ Projected Installation Copenhagen, Denmark.

Under the Rays of the Aurora Borealis: (touring and ongoing) historic Aurora images by 19th century Danish photographer, Sophus Tromholt, Bergen University Picture archive, Norway, and Timespan gallery, Helmsdale, Scotland

Garden States: Jersey/New Jersey, installations Channel Islands, WW2 bunker/Cape May, New Jersey, Veterans weekend NJ USA projecting with original poetry soundtrack

Overlooked: site specific installation in collaboration Nick Drake estate, Valetudo Art Therapy Unit, France, Beat Hotel photographer, Harold Chapman and Shakespearean Michael Maloney, Kent UK
Leave Home Stay: Gone, mixed media, Hurricane Sandy photographic public art installation, Kent, UK
The Library of Lost Books: 1914/1918 – a remade volume of American, English, Irish literature, UK

Back To A Land: Jacquetta Hawkes, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, site-specific mixed media/archival
Leave Home Stay in Haiti, Art Monastery Project, Labro, Italy.

Image courtesy of the artist, Trace: Marfa 2017  

[1] The artist’s Hons degree Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Oxford; published in Antiquity as “Leaving More Than Footprints: contemporary votive offerings at a native American site, Chaco Canyon, NM, USA” 1997.

[2] Under the Rays of the Aurora Borealis: the work of Sophus Tromholt commissioned and funded by Timespan Gallery, Creative Scotland 2015

[3] On the Trace: Passing, Presence, and the Persistence of the Past”

[4] Leave Home Stay