Long durational performance Bone Library (2012) from the Unsettling Suite series.


Sarah-Jane Norman, Bone LibraryVenice International Performance Art Week (2014). Photograph by Monika Sobczak.



Born in Sydney in 1984. Lives and works between Australia, Germany and United Kingdom.

Sarah-Jane Norman is a cross-disciplinary Australian artist and writer of mixed British and Indigenous Australian heritage with ties to both Wannarua and Wiradjuri Nations. Her latest body of work is preoccupied with the complex legacy of colonialism as an embodied phenomena. She considers the body as a spectacle of truth and a theatre of fantasy; a siphon of personal and collective memory; an organism with which we are infinitely familiar and eternally estranged; a site which is equally loaded and empty of meaning, where histories, narratives, desires and discourses converge and collapse. Her works indicate a sometime preoccupation with cultural tropes of romantic love, transience and the interplay of desire and loneliness, while others explore the very different territory of race and colonial trauma.

At the VENICE INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCE ART WEEK, Norman will present the long durational performance and installation Bone Library from the Unsettling Suite series. For five days during the week, Norman will occupy a room, where she will begin the process of engraving a complete dictionary of Indigenous Australian languages which have been classified as "extinct", onto the prepared bones of sheep and beef cattle. The work aims to draw public attention to the issue of language extinction; also, to provoke audiences into active remembrance. A haunting and visceral intervention into the public archive, Bone Library asks the audience to assume personal responsibility for what our culture chooses to remember. Following the live inscription of the bones, the artist will invite audiences to become temporary private trustees of the collection- individual bones will be relinquished into the temporary care of individual audience members, who agree to hold them until such time as the complete collection is recalled. This will take place in the context of a handover ceremony, conducted with the blessing of community Elders

+ CLOSING CEREMONY on Saturday, 20 December at 17:00h. +


Sarah-Jane Norman, Bone LibraryVenice International Performance Art Week (2014). Photograph by Monika Sobczak.



Sarah-Jane Norman, Bone Library. Detail of the installation at the Venice International Performance Art Week (2014). Photograph by Samanta Cinquini.




Curated by Leisa Shelton | Fragment31.


This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.



© Venice International Performance Art Week 2012-2014

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