How do we reconstruct the past? Throughout the late 19th century and 20th century, Upper Paleolithic stautes depicting women began to be uncovered. These have been labelled as Venus Figurines with the Venus of Willendorf, dated from 25 000 BP (before present) coming to symbolise art, iconography and ritual behaviour of pre-Neolithic cultures. These figurines have extensively been research but are too often assigned the function of ritual object and being depictions of fertility mother goddess. In the words of Dr Alison Betts, if the world were to be destroyed today and all that remained were Barbie Dolls, would we then assign those objects the same function as a Paleolithic Venus Figurine?
Domesticus Venus seeks to interrogate these reductive modes of research. By playfully tracking the creation of similar statues from this period into their discovery in the late 1890s and thus proclamation of an object that was intended as a mere toy into the religious symbol of a society labelled as ancient and primitive, this video work challenges modes of academic knowledge-making. This project asks us to consider the question; despite “objectivity” of scientific methods, do we ultimately superimpose our subjective perception of past behaviours and past cultures?
Narration by Robert Attenborough and Victoria Pham
Voices Recorded by
Aman Kang as Australian academic
Edwin de Jaegar as South African academic, in Afrikaans
Daniel Pini as German academic, in German
James Clark as British academic
Natalia Z. as American academic
Victoria Pham as French academic, in French, and young girl
Camera and Filming
Original Score and Sound Design
Script and Editing
Domesticus Venus is presented as part of STRAY VOLTAGE, KINGS Artist-Run’s iterative video program, collaboratively facilitated by Rebecca McCauley and Aaron Claringbold. Looking to the potential that exists between seemingly incompatible ideas, STRAY VOLTAGE premises an experimental program of critically engaged moving image works, fundamentally grounded by the earth.
STRAY VOLTAGE is supported by the City of Melbourne 2022 Annual Arts Grants Program.