Thursday, 9th October 2014

Explorations of the Anthropocene disengagement and the Pleistocene engagement

Anthroposcenes: Pleistocene Lion (2014), Kinez Riza
Anthroposcenes: Pleistocene Horse and Mammoth (2014), Kinez Riza
Pleistocene Lion, Horse and Mammoth (2014) replicas courtesy of Dr. Chris Stringer, Research Leader in Human Origins, Natural History Museum London

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Red Ochre (2014) hand stencils at Leang Sakapao, Maros Regency, Sulawesi

Maxime Aubert (2014)
Dr. Maxime Aubert, Archaeologist and Geochemist, Griffiths University, Queensland, Australia

Kinez Riza presents a continuous body of work in collaboration with Natural History institutions and scientists, particularly in the field of Archaeology. The Anthroposcenes series, etymologically referring to ‘anthropo’ meaning human, ‘cene’ meaning new, and ’(s)cene’ as representation, attempts to represent an innate and intimate quest in search of Origin.

It is a monument to the tension between human effects and nature’s systems through what Kinez Riza provides as constructed narratives, suggesting juxtapositions between two representations of reality. ‘The Anthropocene disengagement and the Pleistocene engagement’ is a term Kinez Riza applies to convey the context of Anthroposcenes.
The present epoch, named the Anthropocene, is undergoing the ‘sixth mass extinction’, and a new period for the human race. ‘Unlike the first five extinctions… the sixth is neither abrupt of spectacular… only the slow, cumulative effects of greenhouse gases, rain forest depletion and a brand of imperialism that extols the virtues of high mass consumption…’ and ‘just as the death of biotic species clears space for emergent creatures, extinction events propel the evolution of cultural productions’ (The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death, Genese Marie Sodikoff).
The ‘Pleistocene engagement’ is a terminology appropriated by the late Paul Shepard, which implies the notion of ‘deep ecology’ and ‘post-modern primitivism’. Human interest in reciprocating those intrinsic human traits and world views practiced by our ancestors long ago and small members of our society at present are surfacing into the needs of the present.

Subjects included within the body of work include the world’s oldest cave paintings found in Sulawesi, Indonesia*. Dated at 40,000 years old by Dr. Maxime Aubert (Griffiths University, Queensland, Australia), the finding showcases the earliest representations of art in the world and Kinez Riza’s documentation of the finding has been widely published by the international media. Other subjects included are examples (replica) of early representational art in Europe dated around the same time as the cave paintings – supplied by Dr. Chris Stringer, research leader of Human Origins from the Natural History Museum London – in the form of mammoth ivory carvings. The Homo Floresiensis cranium (replica), a hominid popularly known as the ‘hobbit’ found in Liang Bua, Flores, Indonesia very recently is featured in the body of work as well, courtesy of ARKENAS (National Archaeological Society Indonesia).

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In a more qualitative form, Kinez Riza conveys her body of work through a letter:

Dear Ancestor,

I am standing where your presence is felt, 40,000 years later, on an innate and intimate quest in search of Origin.
We call our time the Anthropocene, as we call yours the Pleistocene, though I find your time to resonate more in other ways of expression than the ones formed in our present vocabulary, for there is certainly a grace to the lines you painted on those walls.
I see hands in every form, however small their differences may be, but perhaps you identify with this. Perhaps you understood the slight on every finger that gives a man his own trait, nevertheless you painted many hands. In my dreams I saw those many hands as a celebration of your oneness with each other. That you understood our humanity, that we inherently have an innate predisposition to one another transcending time and distance, for your kin 7000 miles away in your time are painting hands on their walls too.
We are aware of our neighbours more than before presently, there is an undercurrent of fear and an overwhelming surge of differences in thoughts and beliefs. For some our differences are celebrated, but I’m embarrassed to say that our kin has not stopped the balance of terror and overkill. I feel more than ever that our destinies mingled with those species that left this world long ago, or even yesterday.
I’m sorry if my letter is solemn, there is much grief in the world, and many of us feel as if we recede back to those human traits your worldview represents in the earliest days that we can identify you.
Some feel that we are turning back to reciprocate your ways, though I speculate your worldview may not have a linear time perspective. Small members of our society feel that time is boundless too, ‘horizon less, in the dark of the mind’.
I don’t feel that I am looking back at you, I am looking at you in the present, as you may be looking at me. I don’t know many things, I have not crossed the threshold yet. I like to feel as if you knew that your hands may be felt in presence 40,000 years later. I have not found a way as clever as yours to make my images last. However slight my success has been, I too, am resonating to you through my own representations.
I raise my hands back at you, while noticing the similarities in our slender shape, and wish to raise it to a face I could recognise if that is what is on the other side of the threshold.

With deep respect and humility,


*The finding is a research initiative conducted by Dr. Maxime Aubert, Dr. Adam Brumm (Griffiths University, Queensland, Australia), Drs. Muhammad Ramli (Association for the Preservation of Cultural Reserves, Makassar), Drs. Budianto Hakim (Makassar Archaeological Association) and Dr. Pindi Setiawan (Institute of Technology, Bandung) – published through Nature Scientific Journal (9 October 2014).

special thanks to

Dr. Maxime Aubert (Griffiths University, Queensland, Australia)
Dr. Adam Brumm (Griffiths University, Queensland, Australia)
Drs. Muhammad Ramli (Association for the Preservation of Cultural Reserves, Makassar)
Drs. Budianto Hakim (Makassar Archaeological Association)
Dr. Pindi Setiawan (Institute of Technology, Bandung)
Dr. Gert Dirk Van Der Bergh (University of Wollongong)
Prof. Thomas Sutikna (ARKENAS)
Dr. Truman Simanjuntak (ARKENAS)
Prof. Erick Setyabudi (Museum Geologi, Bandung)
Prof. Iwan Kurniawan (Museum Geologi, Bandung)
Daniel Diego Lincoln
and supporting team involved in the project

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A N T H R O P O C E N E S : Ethnographic Theatre (with Homo Floresiensis) and G(r)azing Goats
LAND ART MONGOLIA 360 Bienniale, Orkhon Valley, Mongolia
August 2014

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Kinez Riza brought with her the national replica of the Homo Floresiensis cranium, known otherwise as the ‘Hobbit’ hominid found in Flores, Indonesia. She places these in a tableaux vivant photographic construction of an ethnographic diorama on site, including aspects of Mongolian nomadic life and the symbology associated with them. The resulting images represent a romanticised gaze into cultural productions during the sixth mass extinction, combining the discourses of archaeology and natural history whilst creating a satire on the nature of documentary. In a more interactive approach, she places prints of Pleistocene vertebrates found in Indonesia amongst the grasslands and filmed how grazing goats were forced to interact with – to them – the intangible notion of extinction through the prints of extinct grazers. Her works reflect on our displacement with our notion of reality, especially during the current Anthropocene epoch.

a film in production

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Khayangan is a concept of heaven of ancient Javanese people, an incorporeal mystical realm where ancestor spirits or hyang reside. Before being introduced to Hinduism and Buddhism, ancient Javanese worshiped ancestor spirits. The word khayangan was formed from the word hyang added with prefix ka- and suffix -an, and means the realm of hang.
In ancient Sanskrit and Vedic texts, the process of ascension into the heavens, or a heavenly state of consciousness, is often depicted through ritualistic practices or even awareness of the human swah (soul)
This film is a flux of images, songs and letters, it attempts to convey more intrinsic and emotional resonance in human struggles while conveying a strong theme in mythology, symbology and iconology of ancient belief systems as an allegory to human experience, the most important narration being:

Look to where the shadows turn blue
That’s where you will find us
Somewhere between a dream and a fear

In homage to Joseph Conrad’s statement ‘Life is just that, a dream and a fear’.
And while it has a strong cultural context, the narrations are aimed to characterize an individual’s innate struggle with himself or herself. It does not have a distinctive storyline in order to convey a non-linear time perspective as a means of suggesting that time is a construct, as much as reality itself is a construct.
Shot on location in a number of caves in Central Java, craters and volcanic deserts, involving snakes, eagles, horses, daggers as mythological references.

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EDENS submission in fLIP27:CONNECTIONS
April 2014
Artist submission into Themed feature on London Independent Photography Magazine Issue 27
fLIP is published three times per year and each issue has an overarching theme. Our primary aim is to showcase work from our membership of over 500 photographers, and to engage readers in a wider dialogue concerning diverse approaches to photography. The magazine is funded by member subscription fees and contains no advertising. fLIP offers a truly independent voice for photographic practice in London!

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