Bone Library

A major new work from durational performance artist Sarah-Jane Norman, Bone Library considers the living essence of so-called “dead” Indigenous languages. For five days during the festival, Norman occupies a room of the Melbourne City Library, where she begins the process of engraving a complete dictionary of “extinct” Indigenous Australian languages onto the prepared bones of sheep and beef cattle. On the final day of the festival, audiences will be invited to take a single bone into their custodianship. 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.

About the Artist

Sarah-Jane Norman is an interdiscplinary artist and writer, originally from Sydney, and a proud Aboriginal Australian. Known in Australia and abroad for her Intimate performance work (such as the acclaimed "Rest Area", the "Songs of Rapture and Torture" cycle, and the recent "Take this, for it is my Body"), she has had numerous commissions from Performance Space, Sydney and Arnolfini, Bristol; as well as the Campbelltown Arts Centre, Brisbane Festival, Serial Space, among others. She has also won acclaim as a poet and essayist, having placed several years successively in the Overland/Judith Wright Prize for Emerging Poets, as well as the DJ (Dinny) O'Hearn Award.
Annaki Kissas, known for many years by her stage-name, Sex Intents, spent the better part of 2 decades as a pioneering force in Queer performance in Sydney and beyond. Identifying as a Performance Activist, she is the co-counder of the legenday Gurlesque, a strip-club for Women and Trans, and its later incarnation, Pirate Jenny's Strip Club.

Dates: 23-27 May

Location: City Library, 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne (tram routes 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 16, 64, 67, 72, stop 13)

Times: 23-25 May 8am-8pm, 26 May 10am-5pm, 27 May 12pm-5pm

Ticket prices: Free

This event is also part of Day Pass 6

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Warning: This work contains culturally sensitive content and animal bones

Note: On the final day of the installation, the audience will be invited to become public trustees of the collection. With the blessing of each language group’s living descendants, each bone-artefact will be placed in the care of an individual audience member. A national registry, detailing the whereabouts of each bone, will be created for the public record. Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people are invited to become Bone Librarians.


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