If the authorship of rock art by particular groups is assumed, the very object under study can unwittingly be falsely attributed. Our interpretations have largely failed to incorporate evidence, in the colonial era and before, for the integration, mixing, and métissage of new peoples from two or more previously different ethnic groups. The results are equally assumed—namely: that one essential group impacted on the other, and the consequent imagery is a record of this secular narrative. Contrary to these simplistic reflections, creolization emphasizes cultural resilience, subversive agency, and a theoretical usefulness that enables better understandings of the rock art of people on the far side of colonial frontiers and texts.
Past Images, Contemporary Practices: Reuse of Rock Art Images in Contemporary San Art of Southern Africa
Leïla Baracchini and Julien Monney
The emergence in the early 1990s of two contemporary San art projects in Botswana and South Africa has immediately been related to San rock art. Researchers have since that deconstructed this vision showing that that there is no connection between rock art and contemporary paintings and engravings. However as ‘synchronous’ forms of the current experiences of contemporary San art scene’s actors, the presence of rock art images is not without effect on it. Focusing on the Kuru Art Project (Ghanzi District, Botswana), this chapter explores how the presence of rock art images may affect and re-orient current practices and how these images from the past are constantly redefined in contemporary San art. It shows how rock art have become part of the “experiential landscape” of the Kuru artists and analyses the ways these images from the past are invested and reused today as a resource for present practices.
Rock art constitutes a significant cultural testimony, providing insights into the visual imagery of lifeways that are fundamentally different from those of people today. The extant corpus of humanly-made markings on rock is an extraordinary testimony of peoples’ cares, interests, and capacities, preserved thanks to its emplacement on (relatively) durable surfaces. This highly diverse phenomenon, present on many thousands of sites around the globe, to date has only received limited attention from the point of view of aesthetics. In this chapter, the author explores misconceptions of art and aesthetics that have contributed to this gap in research and outlines the value of closely attending to the aesthetic sensibilities and artistic capacities of those who made, and originally appreciated, these remarkable manifestations.
Liam M. Brady, John J. Bradley, and Amanda Kearney
This chapter examines rock art as cultural expressions of social relationships and kinship. More specifically, it considers the type(s) of relationships that exist or emerge in Indigenous contexts and how appreciation of these relationships can elucidate the meaning, symbolism, and significance of rock art. It first explores the relational contexts of rock art by citing examples involving sorcery before discussing the social embeddedness of rock art and the network of relationships that rock art operates within. It then analyzes the regional relatedness and social connectedness of rock art and shows that the breadth of relationships into which rock art is embedded involves ontology and epistemology. The chapter uses a series of case studies drawn primarily from rock art research with Yanyuwa, a maritime-oriented Indigenous language group in northern Australia’s southwest Gulf country, supplemented with examples from the American Southwest and other areas within Australia.