5 October – 7 December 2019
The first Australian exhibition of influential Mexico-born, Berlin-based artist Mariana Castillo Deball is the result of MUMA’s invitation to the artist to undertake a long-term project here.
Castillo-Deball uses installation, sculpture, photography and drawing to explore the role objects play in our understanding of identity and history. Engaging in prolonged periods of research and fieldwork, she takes on the role of the explorer or the archaeologist, compiling found materials in a way that reveals new connections and meanings. Often working across disciplines and collaborating with experts in different fields, Castillo-Deball creates art that examines the nexus of history and identity, drawing on museology, anthropology, archaeology and the philosophy of science.
For her project with MUMA, Castillo-Deball has focussed on Nilpena, an area north of Adelaide, which is home to one of the most intact and rich Ediacara fossil sites in the world. At least 30 other Ediacara localities are now known globally and are the basis for defining the first new geological period in over a century. The Ediacaran Period began 635 million years ago and ended 542 million years ago with the Cambrian explosion of animal life, represented by animals with skeletons and shells.
In 2018 Castillo-Deball undertook a site visit to Nilpena with staff of the South Australian Museum who have significant holdings of the fossils in their collection and take annual site visits to the site for research and training. Using tactile methods such as ink rubbings and frottage, Castillo-Deball documented the fossils, often capturing clear images that are more readable than the fossil itself.
In this major gallery-wide commission at MUMA, produced in-situ and including sculpture and drawing, Castillo-Deball will draw upon the landscape and fossils at Nilpena, as well as existing illustrations speculating on Ediacaran life. Hot pink, the oldest organic pigment extracted from bacteria fossils related to the time and environment of the Ediacaran period, will play a key role in the exhibition. As in previous projects, Castillo-Deball combines practices of art and sciences to develop new narrative connections and understandings about time, history and evolution itself.