DEAD IMAGES: Facing the history, ethics and politics of European skull collections

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  • Tuesday - Saturday, 12pm - 5pm

  • Edinburgh College of Art
    74 Lauriston Place
    EH3 9DF

DEAD IMAGES explores the contentious legacy of collections of human skulls, assembled during the 19th and early 20th centuries and still held in public institutions in Europe. Some of these skulls were taken close to home, but others were looted from the graves of indigenous peoples, taken without consent and in violation of beliefs concerning the sanctity of the dead.

This legacy resides in our cities, often hidden but it is still with us. The Dead Images exhibition brings this legacy to light by exhibiting a 30 x 3 meter photograph of one such collection, a gathering of more than 8,000 skulls held in the Natural History Museum of Vienna.

In exhibiting this photograph, we ask a question: who are we to invite the public to gaze upon the bones of others as an artistic or scientific spectacle? We explore this question through a series of videos, in which people speak their beliefs and feelings and whether or not we should display such a photograph.

The choice to see the photograph rests with the visitor, and in making that choice visitors are asked to reflect upon the work of bringing this history to light, the ethics of making such a display visible and the role that descendants, curators, scientists, artists and the public may play in reimagining a place and purpose for these remains of once-living people.

This event is part of Edinburgh Art Festival 2018.