Sam Melser

Neustart Kultur Identity Lab

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Between October 2021 and July 2022, I gained financial support from German funding bodies Neustart Kultur and BBK - the German national Fine Art Association.

This fantastic opportunity not only enabled me to develop this artwork but also to develop close professional relationships with the University of Konstanz in the south of Germany and the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, near Dusseldorf.  

A few words around the work

Integrate the web and become an active component in the construction of a contemporary art installation. An opportunity to reconnect with others on the subject of identity, participating in an Identity Lab installation is an opportunity to build new relationships and rediscover missing links caused by Covid 19. 

What does it mean to be an immigrant or an indigenous person, a European or a non-European, a girl or a boy, a woman or a man or someone who does not fully identify with these categories? Is there any one particular trait that distinguishes humans from non-humans (language, art, intelligence, bipedialism…)? Are National identities still relevant in the age of globalisation or can critical approaches to anthropology and archaeology (with the help of art) help us to build new, more complex and dynamic, notions of self and other, us and them

These are some of the questions we will address in our installations that are intended for both adults and children. With a playful attitude and a philosophical approach, participants are encouraged to collect and combine various materials that are brought to the table by the artist.

In this group collage-making exercise of non-determinded outcomes, surprise, experimentation and connectivity are driving forces. The result of collaboration and cooperation, the objective is to build a tangible and material open-source mind map where storytelling and performance are keys to building identity. The installation material elicits conversations about our identity as humans and each participant selects from a large unorganised archive what goes where in the installation and why.

Fragments from social science textbooks as well as popular magazines are decontextualised (cut out) and it is up to the participants to find new meanings in building new relationships and possible (counter) narratives to the omniscient “Master Narrative”.

An exercise in building relationships, this collective artwork is a site-specific collage in the making, a game of thinking with your hands and talking with your cut-outs.

Further details

Identity Lab is essentially the installation and arrangement of the raw materials of Artist Sam Melser. The artist invites participants to help reconfigure new scenarios of human history with materials he has collected and transformed over many years.  Melser began collecting iconography from anthropology and archaeology whilst writing his PhD in Paris at the EHESS Social Science School. Since then, it has grown immeasurably.

The manipulation of this material is intended to help us think about what it means to be human and how we can ethically design (or redesign) our destiny, 

Sam Melser :

Artist bio, CV and works at : www.sammelserart,com

Lake House collective artwork with school group, Auckland,

New Zealand, 2020.

Workshop installation material

Workshop installation material

University of Auckland teambuilding workshop, Auckland, New Zealand, 2020.

Installation scenario

Cafe Mondial, Konstanz, Dec.2021

Cafe Mondial, Konstanz, Dec.2021

Cafe Mondial, Konstanz, Dec. 2021

Cafe Mondial, Konstanz, Dec.2021

Collective analog installation, University of Konstanz, July, 


Identity Lab poster

Using Format