Upcoming Events

‘Bodies in Pieces: Representations of the Human Body in Visual Arts’ Lecture by Ola Wojtkiewicz

  • Where? National Galleries of Scotland, Hawthornden Theatre
  • When? Tuesday 14th August, 12.45-1.30pm

Art historian Ola Wojtkiewicz will consider representations of the human body and fragmented bodies – both during and after life – in the context of National Galleries of Scotland displays. The talk will cover Jenny Saville’s compelling paintings of flesh, Christine Borland’s installation inspired by cutting-edge transplant surgery, a curious collection of 19th-century phrenological heads and the uniquely intimate self-portrait by Angela Palmer. A history of the bodies in art is not complete without reference to religious representation of martyred bodies in works by 16th and 17th-century old masters. This talk is presented in parallel with the exhibition Dead Images exhibition.

Film Screening

  • When? Thursday,23rd August, 11am-1pm
  • Where? Edinburgh College of Art Cinema Space (Room O.25 Hunter Building)
  • Registration? Click here  to register and get your free ticket

UK premier of the film ‘Trapped in a Human Zoo: Based on Abraham’s Diary‘ will be held in partnership with the Dead Images project. The film builds on research from France Rivet, who was interviewed as part of Dead Images and features in the exhibition. France will be present for the screening and the film will be followed by an open discussion about the themes addressed.

Relive the incredible story of two Labrador Inuit families, who in 1880, lured by promises of adventures and wealth, embarked for Europe to become the latest attraction in the now-forgotten world of ethnographical shows (also known as “human zoos”). Soon, the Inuit realized their mistake and longed to return home. Sadly, none of them did: All eight died from smallpox less than four months after setting foot in Europe. If not for one small diary written by a member of the group named Abraham, their tragic story would have been forgotten forever. More than 130 years later a French-Canadian, France Rivet, not only discovered this fascinating story, but also located the remains of the Inuit in the vaults of a museum in Paris. Then begins her quest, as well as that of Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe, to discover the whole truth and to repatriate their bones.”

Traveller, photographer, writer and researcher, France Rivet is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, and founder of Polar Horizons, an enterprise that is dedicated to making the Arctic, its nature, people and history better known. Her book “In the Footsteps of Abraham Urikab” reveals the results of her four-year research to demystify the events surrounding the death, in Europe in 1880–1881, of eight Labrador Inuit who were being exhibited in ethnographical shows.Her work is featured in the documentary “Trapped in a Human Zoo,” which aired on CBC’s The Nature of Things with David SuzukiIn 2017, France was nominated by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television for the Barbara Sears Award for Best Editorial Research (TV).

Director Guilhem Rondot giving instructions to Kerstin Kownak (Nugassak), Julie Ivalu (Paingu) and Michael Singoori (Tigianniak)


Exhibition Tours (drop in, no need to book)

July: weekly, Tuesdays,12pm-12.45pm

August: twice-weekly, Tuesdays & Thursdays, 12pm-12.45pm

Lunchtime Talks

A series of lunchtime talks held in the info lounge at Dead Images at the Edinburgh College of Art, expanding on issues raised in the exhibition.

  • Tuesday 7th August, 12pm-1pm – ‘Rethinking skull collections through colour’ by Joan Smith
  • Tuesday 14th August, 12.45pm-1.30pm, ‘Bodies in Pieces: Representations of the Human Body in Visual Arts’ by Ola Wojtkiewicz at the National Galleries of Scotland
  • Wednesday 15th August, 12pm-1pm – ‘First findings on Visitor Engagement at the Dead Images Exhibition’ by Callum Fisher
  • Wednesday 22nd August 12pm-1pm – In conversation: Dr John Harries & Dr Linda Fibiger ‘Searching for the person within – Anthropological and bioarchaeological reflections on skeletal identities’

Past Events

Biographical Tours (drop in, no need to book)

The skulls in the photograph at the centre of the exhibition were collected during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when scientists sought to elaborate ideas of human difference through the comparative study of crania. Some were taken close to home, but others were looted from battlefield sites or the graves of indigenous peoples, taken without consent and in violation of local beliefs concerning the sanctity of the dead and the reverence for ancestors.

Anna Szöke, researcher at the Humboldt University of Berlin and core member of the DEAD IMAGES team, gave tours of the exhibition that focussed on the stories of the individuals whose remains now form part of the skull collection.

Students Consultation Session

In order to incorporate diverse perspectives from outside the Dead Images team prior to the opening of the exhibition, a consultation session was organised with students from relevant disciplines at the University of Edinburgh. These included three archaeology students, three art students and three anthropology students.

Consultation session with students

The students had a number of recommendations that will help shape the way that we consider the exhibition.

Practitioners Consultation Session

This informal event aimed to introduce curators, engagement and education professionals working across the Scottish arts and heritage sector to the Dead Images project.

Participants contributed to knowledge production in the Dead Images project through discussion, suggestions, and reflections. The discussions were recorded and analysed by an ethnographer together with the education team to inform further curatorial strategies.

“Fascinating discussion and useful consideration of imagery associated with human remains and abstracted images. I will discuss with colleagues in relation to our current guidance”

‘Skeletons, Stories, and Social Bodies Conference’

Joan Smith, Linda Fibiger and John Harries talked about diverse and at times conflicting perspectives on and questions about human remains and the ethics of their acquisition, and particularly their curation and display at the ‘Skeletons, Stories, and Social Bodies Conference’ at Southampton University (held March 20th to 22nd, 2018).

Public Art in the city of Edinburgh

John Harries, Linda Fibiger and and Ola Wojtkiewicz gave a short presentation at the ‘Public Art in the city of Edinburgh – collaborative discussion’ on February 7th, 2018 for professionals and others interested in fostering future improvements to Public Art in the city through funding, legislation, policy and planning. The presentation focused on aspects of collaborative and interdisciplinary work as developed through TRACES.

Workshop on Exhibition Architecture 

On November 27th and 28th of 2017, a second Workshop on Exhibition Architecture was led by WP6 researchers Francesca Lanz and Jacopo Leveratto for the members of CCP4, which concentrated on developing specific and detailed architectural solutions for the main installation of the ‘Dead Images’ exhibition, and for the planned ‘Information Lounge’ section of the exhibition.

Francesca Lanz and Jacopo Leveratto measuring the space for the Dead Images exhibition, Edinburgh College of Art, November 2017. © Tal Adler

Bringing to Light: The Dilemmas of Displaying Contentious Historical Material

The CCP4 team participated in the CARMAH/CoHERE conference ‘Critical Heritages and Reflexive Europeanisation’ in Berlin in September of 2017. During the conference, Joan Smith, John Harries and Tal Adler performed ‘Bringing to Light: The Dilemmas of Displaying Contentious Historical Material.’ For more information on the conference and its other participants, please visit their website.

What Remains

John Harries and Linda Fibiger (assisted by Meaghan Dyer) curated a learning event titled “What Remains” at the National Museum of Scotland for Anthropology Scotland Day (June 19th, 2017).  This interactive arts-based learning event, preceded by a short lecture, was developed to educate secondary school students in the relationship between personhood and human remains.