Matter, Gesture and Soul is a cross-disciplinary research project investigating the extent to which contemporary art can cultivate points of contact with archeology. The project has established a collaborative environment in which artistic, poetic and scholarly work, in dialogue with prehistoric ‘art’, explores ways in which we respond to the traces of human activity from the Neolithic and Mesolithic eras. Nature has been humanity’s companion throughout our existence on earth. Abalone shell, ochre residue, the geometric markings on the rocky formations at Fontainebleau, cave drawings in South Africa, the passage tomb at Newgrange, and spoors of our more immediate past all testify to the myriad ways human beings have interacted with each other and their physical surroundings over the course of our existence. If we are to change the way we impact the earth’s ecosystems, it is imperative that we find a new mindset.
We are digging up the past in search of a new future, we dig to learn how to transform perception into new understanding. All research disrupts thought; that is the point. But we also know that when ideas find a voice and step out into the world as knowledge, it is frequently the result of collective effort that spanned a gamut of disciplines. Art is a discipline that collects and presents without the strict premises, methods or requirements of scientific inquiry. It can perhaps be compared with a string bag, tote or carry-all in which all our findings and processing can be gathered and carried further. We dig, we reap, we put stuff in our bags and move onward. Now and then we feel the need to stop for a moment, empty our bags of their contents and share them with others as we discuss the days to come.