The Visionary Animal: An Insight into San Rock Art
Renaud Ego, a French poet, novelist and essayist living in Paris, has dedicated a considerable part of the last 20 years to studying Southern African rock art
Renaud Ego invites us to question our understanding of San Rock Art.
The interpretation of San rock art has been instructed by the two fundamental categories of anthropology: myth and ritual. These modes of interpretation seek to explain what these images are saying, without asking what they are doing. Overall, these modes of interpretation have not been taking into account the operations of figuration that are present within visual thought. Even though San rock art incorporates elements designated by these two categories, it functions neither as mythological narrative, nor as ritualistic dance; it is quite simply not its visual purpose.
Conference in French and in English
It is therefore important to reposition the study of San rock art within the framework of visual anthropology which is founded on a relational analysis of these three fundamental modes of figuration: narration, dance and painting.
To illustrate this point of view, which is the core of the collection of essays, The Visionary Animal, various examples will be discussed, particularly themes such as rain animals, and therianthropes conflating human and animal bodies.