Life of Bone brings into sharp relief, and interrogates, the abutting practices of the scientific and the artistic, practices which have co-existed since the beginning of our species. It's based on an exhibition, scheduled to open in May 2011 at the Origins Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand. This exhibition will display the original fossil skull of the Taung child hominid alongside artworks by Joni Brenner, Gerhard Marx and Karel Nel made specifically in response to these evolutionarily significant remains. This unique combination of paleoanthropological finds and art prompts a range of enquiries on the nature of both artistic and scientific disciplines, and encourages a dialogue between the very distant historic and the contemporary.
Joni Brenner, whose work has been in the field of portraiture, turned a few years ago to working from a human skull that she has in her studio, and from which she makes watercolour studies on an almost daily basis. Recently she has begun work on a series of images based on a cast of the Taung fossil, which has pushed her investigation in portraiture and what it is to be human back by a few millennia. Gerhard Marx works with skulls, star maps and root systems - objects and imagery that all point to fragmented ways of knowing. His work explores the ways in which these objects function in relation to a need for certainty: stars as co-ordinates and directional guides, the plant as a specimen in botany, and the skull as relic and as an aid in forensics and in the historical and scientific location of origins. Karel Nel very often works with earth collected from specific regions or sites around the globe. He uses this matter to explore notions of deep time and the forensic information encoded within the formless substance, which for centuries has been a metaphor for birth and death, 'dust to dust'. Nel's work presents a distinctive and powerful combination of the conceptual and the physical, and engages the interface between experience/thought and its notation in visual form.
Obsessions and impulses; history, ancestry, genes; being-craft; part of the story; of words and skulls; where do we come from? who are we? where are we going?; matter out of place; cartographer of consciousness
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- ID: 9781868145393
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