Maropeng Acts I & II

Lesley Lokko (Ghana)

Alt Art Space

“Fifty miles to the north of Johannesburg lies the Cradle of Humankind, a scattering of limestone caves that contain the world’s largest trove of hominim fossils, man’s earliest ancestors. Two years ago, anthropologists assigned the genus Homo to skeletons that were discovered in a remote underground ‘room’ in the Rising Star cave system, giving us fresh insights into the origins of our species. Seventy miles in the opposite direction lies the Vredefort Dome, a scar in the earth’s surface caused by a 10 km wide meteor that crashed into the earth two billion years ago. The impact altered the geological structure of the area, which, in turn led to the discovery of gold two hundred years ago. Johannesburg was born. Within two decades, the city housed 100,000 inhabitants.” –LL, EW, CM


Maropeng Acts I & II is a series of visual essays on the origins of species, time, place and scale prompted by two South African locations in close proximity: the paleoanthropological site known as “Cradle of Humankind” and the largest verified impact crater on Earth, the Vredefort Dome. “Maropeng,” a word in the indigenous Setswana language meaning “returning to the place of origin,” is mobilized to invent new geological and geographical narratives on the beginnings of humanity.