S.J Norman
Bone Library

Creation date: 2010–22
Location: Gallery 12

Artist S.J Norman on Bone Library

Bone Library is one work that sits in a body of work called Unsettling Suite. Unsettling Suite is a series of works that look at the embodied legacy of colonial trauma, colonial violence or the ongoing legacy of colonial violence as it’s experienced in the body. I first started working on Bone Library in 2007, but it didn’t see its first public iteration until 2012. It involves engraving animal bones with words from Aboriginal Australian languages that have been classified as moribund or extinct, which is the terminology that’s used by the linguistic orthodoxy to describe a language that is no longer active. Each bone is then catalogued and indexed in a way that references colonial taxonomy. It looks at colonial museological collecting practices and the...violence that exists, when we are looking at the way our cultural materials have been stolen and displaced and kept in colonial institutions, particularly our literal bones.

— S.J Norman, 2021

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