Doing Lucy

Puck Verkade

In the 1970s, archaeologists discovered a set of fossilised bone fragments comprising 40% of the skeleton of a 3.2 million year-old primate. "Lucy" was celebrated in paleontology as a singularly important discovery of an early human ancestor.

Puck Verkade's film presents fictional reconstructions of Lucy, as she becomes a way to think about the blurry lines between human and animal. By focusing on the political implications of using a now-extinct species to think about what it means to be human, the artist highlights how centuries of accumulated bias have affected how Lucy has been presented throughout the decades.

A new performance by Verkade, proposing a technological resurrection of Lucy as a human/ape chimera, will take place during the GENDERS: Shaping and Breaking the Binary season.

This is one of three works exploring reproduction and technology selected for the exhibition by Helen Knowles, curator of the Birth Rites Collection at King's College London .The Birth Rites Collection is the first and only collection of contemporary artwork dedicated to the subject of childbirth, hosted by the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative CareDoing Lucy was commisioned by Daata Editions in 2018.

Image: Doing Lucy, install view at Schimmel Projects Art Centre Dresden Courtesy: the artist and Daata Editions

About the contributor(s) 

Puck Verkade’s moving image work reconsiders the archetypes and narratives that shape human experience and social structures. Shot through with humour and a distinct taste for the absurd, her videos tell stories from alternative perspectives, making space for the unheard and under-represented.