Life of Bone Cover

Life of Bone

Art Meets Science

176 pages

April, 2011

ISBN: 9781868145393


Joni Brenner is a principal tutor in history of art at the Wits School of Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and is a practicing visual artist. Elizabeth Burroughs is a senior manager at Umalusi. Karel Nel is an artist and an associate professor of fine arts at the Wits School of Arts.

Peter Mitchell is a professor of African archaeology at the University of Oxford. Benjamin Smith is Winthrop Professor at the Centre for Rock Art research and Management at the University of Western Australia.

Bernhard Zipfel is the University Curator of Fossils and Rock Collections at the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

 An interesting look at the combination of paleoanthropological finds and art
Life of Bone brings into sharp relief, and interrogates, the abutting practices of the scientific and the artistic, practices which have coexisted since the beginning of our species. It is 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. The creative work produced for this exhibition and the commissioned essays seek to explore issues of influence in various ways. Questions around viewing, and the new ways in which one sees the hominid fossils after viewing contemporary responses and re-imaginings of this material, will be foregrounded. The creative and intellectual engagement with this material probes the human fascination with our origins, provoking questions about the human desire to go further and further back in an evolutionary pattern, until one belongs, and can be placed. The skull, specifically, is more than a scientific object; it is the architecture of consciousness. For humans, the grasp of self and the universe occurs in this small, sealed chamber. Engaging with one's origins is to focus on the nature of life and death, absence and presence.