The purpose of this quest for ancestral faces is to take them out of the mist, to reunite the ancestors with the Canarians of today, to gather together the images of both and to let them talk to one another. They are us. (Text: Faustino García Márquez).
Originally arriving in the Canary Islands to photograph the lives of cave dwellers, Francesca Phillips became intrigued by the mysteries surrounding their indigenous population. Produced and curated by Francesca, The Quest for Ancestral Faces is the result of her multidisciplinary art and science research project that includes themes of migration, identity and culture. Her objective
is to provide a more complete picture of the heritage of the islands, establish a connection between the ancient Canarians and the people of today, and open the window on a rich culture that
is for the most part concealed by the familiar tourist industry.
Just over five hundred years ago the Castilians invaded and conquered a mysterious and isolated population lying between the three continents of Africa, Europe and America. Pliny the Elder wrote about the Canary Islands in his encyclopaedia Naturalis Historia in AD 77-79, and throughout the centuries the archipelago has sustained continuous migratory waves. Genetic analyses
have now established that these original inhabitants were similar to North African Berbers, and that their DNA remains in the contemporary Canarian population. Francesca has made over fifty portraits of people from across the eight islands, along with video interviews and conversations between experts in the fields of genetics, archaeology and anthropology, and with a selection of the portrait sitters describing their feelings about their newly revealed history.
With very little to go on from the time of the Castilian conquest the appearance of the ancient population remained an enigma. Fifty-one of their faces are now finally revealed. Thanks to the collaboration of Face Lab, based at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, the contemporary portraits are juxtaposed with facial depictions from skulls dating from the 6th century. This
work has been done by Dr. María Castañeyra-Ruiz, a visiting forensic anthropologist from Fuerteventura, and led by Face Lab´s director Professor Caroline Wilkinson, world renowned for her facial depictions of Rameses II, J. S. Bach and King Richard III amongst others. This is the largest facial reconstruction project ever undertaken from a single archaeological population anywhere
in the world.
The exhibition is held within the framework of the II Congress of Museums of the Canary Islands, organized by the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage of the Government of the Canary Islands. Forty-nine of the skulls depicted are held in The Canarian Museum, the remaining two in the Benahoarita Archaeological Museum of La Palma and the collection of the Cabildo of Lanzarote respectively. Also presented is the 4D face of a male mummy from the museum’s collection, with animation, and images of the average pre-Hispanic man, woman and child, produced
by Face Lab.
The Quest for Ancestral Faces evolved from Los Canarios, exhibited at Gallery La Nube di OOrt, Rome, in 2015.
More details coming here soon, plus a website for the project is to follow….