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Archaeology of Sacrifice (2020)

Through the discovery of a Celtic sacrificial site at Mormont Hill—a limestone and marl quarry located in the Swiss canton of Vaud—the two-channel video installation with surround sound design Archaeology of Sacrifice unveils how the notion of sacrifice has transitioned from ancient sacred rituals to its contemporary meaning within extractive capitalism. Evidence suggests the Celts inhabiting the site during the second century BCE were experiencing a moment of crisis, perhaps linked to Germanic invasion. Thus, they buried offerings in the form of several human and animal bodies, tools and bronze vessels to the Earth in exchange for guidance through the catastrophe.

Today, sacrifice is mediated by market exchange—the well-being of humans, nonhumans and the environment has been betrayed in favour of economic growth. Sacrifice zones are proliferating in areas deemed most extractable, most exploitable: usually regions under pressure from neoliberal policies. Here, humanity and nature are believed to be expendable and replaceable.

Mormont Hill’s excavated objects help archaeologists fiction a past, though the Celts almost certainly did not intend for these remains to be uncovered. In archaeology, formulating past beliefs involves delicately navigating between fiction and reality, where the lines are always blurred; the reconstruction will always be a representation. The project builds on this grey area in our own moment of current crisis, pushing for a more earthly understanding of prospective cohabitation while offering a reflective space for an unknown future.

In a continuous interplay between fact, fiction and scale, meditative landscapes of typically inaccessible areas are juxtaposed with archival footage, drone views, investigative close-ups and photogrammetry-based 3D modelling. Whilst acknowledging the Anthropocene is built on an erasure of its racial origins, Archaeology of Sacrifice reflects on the precariousness of our planet and its unsolicited submission to humanity.

Text by Ellen Lapper and Ignacio Acosta


Archaeology of Sacrifice was created in collaboration with film editor Lara Garcia Reyne, artists Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds (Pa.LaC.E), writer Carlos Fonseca, sound designer and composer Udit Duseja, and colourist Paul Wills. The film includes archival footage from the documentary Crépuscule des Celtes (2007) by Stéphane Goël, Climage. It was produced as result of the Scholarship 2020 of the ZF Kunststiftung, Friedrichshafen, Germany, filmed during Principal Residency Program, La Becque Résidence d’artistes, La-Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland and with the collaboration of the Musée cantonal d'archéologie et d'histoire/Lausanne, Switzerland. It was presented first by ZF Art Foundation at the Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, 18.9.–6.12.2020.


Supported by
ZF Art Foundation Friedrichshafen, Germany, 2020
La Becque Artist Residency, Switzerland, 2019


Archaeology of Sacrifice video teaser, 2020


Sacré Mormont Palais de Rumine, Laussane, Switzerland, 2023-24
ZF Art Foundation Friedrichshafen, Germany, 2020


Archaeology of Sacrifice, 2020


Online discussion
Discussion - Ignacio Acosta: Archaeology of Sacrifice, Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen, Germany, 2020


Burlington Contemporary by Anna Staab, 2020
Artishock by Ellen Lapper, 2020


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Im a Chilean born, London based visual artist and researcher.

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