Whether considered at an individual or population level, collections of human remains contain multiple biographies that encompass the personal, biological and historical and the personal. Narratives generated from these different biographies – by descendants, archaeologists, anthropologists, artists, curators and historians – are often represented as has having conflicting or opposing purposes, built on contradictory principles and values.

Artistic engagements with these remains, such as ‘Dead Images’, may provide the opportunity to confront, appraise and mediate these tensions by creating unsettling spaces of encounter that transcend the limitations of history and science. In so doing they invite the possibility of an open and reflexive appreciation of other perspectives on this challenging heritage.

This meeting brings together diverse reflections on encounters with collections of human remains, to critically explore the histories, including histories of violence and dispossession, which are disclosed in these diasporic gatherings of bones and the problematic of their ongoing dwelling within the public sphere.


Thursday, 28th June – Opening Event
7pm – 8pm, ECA, West Court
Discussion between the artist, Tal Adler and Charlotte Roberts, professor of buiarchaeology at the Univesity of Durham, facilitated by Sam Alberti of National Museums Scotland

Friday, 29th June – DEAD IMAGES conference
9.30am onwards
International conference, reflecting on anthropological collections, their history and the moral and social implications of their keeping and display. 

Saturday, 30th June – Lecture performance by Konradin Kunze
A skull forms the centre of this lecture-performance. Two biographical stories revolve around it. They lead from Germany to Tanzania, across archives, consulates and battlefields, from colonial history to the present and into the skull of each audience member. With historical documents and sound files, they connect to a bizarre odyssey between science, politics and theatre. For more details about Konradin Kunze, see here.


Tal Adler (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Sam Alberti (National Museums of Scotland)

Christine Borland (Northumbria University)

Sabine Eggers (Natural History Museum of Vienna)

Te Herekiekie Herewini (Te Papa Tongarewa)

June Jones (Birmingham University)

Elizabeth James-Perry (artist, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head –Aquinna)

Konradin Kunze (author and performer, Berlin)

Rebecca Redfern (Museum of London)

Layla Renshaw (Kingston University London)

James Riding In (Arizona State University)

Charlotte Roberts (Durham University)

Elise Smith (University of Warwick)

Joan Smith (Edinburgh College of Art)

Anna Szöke (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Maria Teschler-Nicola (University of Vienna, Natural History Museum Vienna)

Paul Turnbull (University of Tasmania, University of Queensland)

Further info?

See the conference brochure here for the full programme, abstracts of papers presented and the speakers’ biographies.

Conference Brochure