Projects per year
Even though the study of animal depictions in early art is one of the most researched topics in rock art, interpretations have often been anthropocentric. Rather than seeing how human and animal populations co-exist and become with, rock art explanations of animals often linger around economic appreciations that prioritize their value for human beings. This view has been extensively influenced by a Cartesian philosophy that has at its core an idea of human exceptionalism and domination over other species. Here, we are concerned with deconstructing the ontological footing of humans and animals in the early rock art from the Kimberley, Australia, from a relational and performative point of view. Methods used in rock art to identify figurative motifs are deeply entangled with Western conceptualizations of what it means to be human/animal, marginalising Indigenous ontologies. Our main objective is to advance an epistemological approach that will allow us to identify and understand the modes of representation used by artists in the study area. We do so through the application of an iconographic analysis that incorporates performative relationships between motifs. By considering performance, we are able to engage with non-essentialists ways of being and focus instead on Indigenous ontologies.