Granny's Bones, 2019, Installation, Performance, VR film
I am thinking about Maria. Or Марья. Or Marie Antoinette de Czaplicka (ridiculous). About her achievements, her blunders and our complicity. At the turn of the 19th century many people thought about Maria: an exceptional Oxford anthropologist, a woman, or, a “Man of Science” (her own words), “a Healing Woman” (words of native Sibiriaki), “a pure flame too intense for mortal body” (words of her male Oxford supervisor), “her own mistress for too many years” (a male professor at Oxford). Not so much now. Her grave is broken, grown over with small yellow flowers. I am thinking about Tilka’s grandmother. Her grave is broken too. I am thinking about the involuntary entanglements we stumble through and the broader choreography of anthropology performing its own antics and transformations through time. She writes of the performances of the shaman witnessed in 1915; how he “falls to the ground unconscious, while his soul is wandering in the other worlds, talking with the spirits and asking them for advice.” She is unwittingly enacting a very similar performance of her own. She travels to the “worlds” of the Evenki peoples she deems “other,” and simultaneously, by articulating them as such, she begins to create a cultural imaginary world, her own conception of Siberian reality, through which others will later wander, seeking advice from a long deceased “spirit” anthropologist (Maria commits suicide in 1921) to reconstruct a cultural reality in the present.
I am getting entangled in this choreography.
I can hear the rattling of their bones.