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Megafauna and Ancient Art



Among the earliest human sculptures are those depicting Pleistocene megafauna – mammoths, mastodons and others. In certain human contexts throughout Eurasia and the Americas these megafauna represented the world’s most significant concentrations of wealth at the time – food, shelter, material for tools, materials for trade, and the sources of myth. Hunting megafauna required group activity, pushed our ancestors to their limits, and fired their imaginations. It is also significant that every culture has rituals and practices that involve putting on animal skins, masks and fur – humans entering animal forms to become more fully human. This fifth space experience is a symbolically charged Columbian Mammoth for those areas where this animal formerly lived. The sculpture has a porous boundary, allowing its inner light to project out into the landscape, allowing humans to sleep inside it, and cast their shadows out from within.

The crucial ‘moments’ of this fifth space experience include being inside the sculpture as it casts shadows and finding your shadow merges with the animal, looking out through the eyes of the animal, the act of getting in and out of the animal, and sleeping within its body.

By Joseph O'Connell


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