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'Fish Folk, Tales from Lepenski Vir' by Emily Weaver

SaltSpace gallery

17/06/22 - 22/06/22

Emily Weaver is a multimedia visual artist, her current practice aims to explore the mystery behind the sculptures found in the Lepenski Vir. The Lepenski Vir, or "red claywhirlpool" is located on the right bank of the Danube in eastern Serbia. The true purpose of the sculptures is unknown but archaeologists theorise they represent a deity of great importance to the settlement. This is based on their locations within the site and a clear visual continuity across discovered sculptures, even across time. One anthropological theory to the spiritual significance of these sculptures contends that they represented the souls of the dead reincarnated into fish; that all men were children of the river. The Danube brought life to the Lepenski Vir culture in the form of a rich, sustainable food source and protection with a strong structural foundation and safety along the riverside. The sculptures found at the site combine fish and human features resulting in a strange but familiar expression. Their ornamentation resembles scales or the inner anatomy of a fish, suggesting a deep connection between the people and the river. Weaver visually connects with a culture lost to time through sculpture, tapestries and video art. Her work aims to capture a life cycle; death, rebirth and reflection while also mirroring the process of archeological discovery.

The film shows a character connecting with imagined ancestors and mingling with archeologists. They contemplate and reconnect with past selves and Mesolithic ways of life. This reflects strong themes of personal and cultural identity and blends together with found footage of archeologists unearthing the strict archaeological truths of the site.The use of headpiece performance reflects the importance of the head in Lepenski Vir’s burial sites. Typically, sculptures were found placed by the head of the body and in some cases found in place of the skull. Trapezoidal tapestries represent the architecture of the settlements, filled with relics and tools. These are surrounded by sculptures consisting of a fish rack, a soft whirlpool and large neon fish men. Weaver translates the primitive carved stone into soft sculptures using brightly coloured fabrics to emphasise their discovery.

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