Feast or Famine


Presentation Title:

  • Feast or Famine




  • For this video piece artist Bronwyn Lace requested permission from the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien (Vienna) to document through time-lapse photography the process of Dermestesmaculatus (carrion beetle) removing the flesh of a Tyto alba (barn owl). The carrion beetle is typically used by universities and museums to remove the flesh from bones in skeleton preparation. Whilst at first the focus of this video piece may be on the dead and skinned body of an owl after some time it shifts to the movement of the beetles. The video makes visible all the stages of the life cycle of this beetle. While the subject may initially be death and decay it quickly becomes apparent that it’s equally about life. Museums and universities use the beetles to prepare skeletons because they preserve the DNA of the specimen. A sound component has been collaboratively created by South African composers and vocalists Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Xolisile Bongwana. The sound is a meditation on mourning.