Professor Bailey Destroys Archival Research Images in the Name of Art, Ethics

Anthropology Professor Doug Bailey destroyed more than 1,200 transparencies from SF State archives, and he is proud of it. He culled 35-millimeter images from decades-old research projects that are now considered unethical — studies of ethnicity, sexuality, animal dissection and human reproduction — and soaked them in diluted sodium oxychloride.

It is part of Bailey’s efforts to create a new discipline, art/archaeology. In early March, just as the COVID-19 crisis hit, he made a splash at the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture in Lisbon, Portugal, with the exhibition “Creative (un)makings: disruptions in art/archaeology.” An academic conference accompanied the exhibition; a catalogue and book are coming soon.

Installations included Bailey’s own creative political work, “Releasing the Archive,” and “Ineligible,” composed of sculptures made from archaeological remains excavated during the construction of San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center. Bailey curated the exhibit with University of Lisbon Professor Sara Navarro. Art Assistant Professor Ilana Crispi contributed a piece to “Ineligible.”

SF State’s George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts and College of Liberal & Creative Arts faculty travel fund helped support the project.

Read the full story on the College of Liberal & Creative Arts website.