Portretten tentoonstelling Fugitives
Portretten tentoonstelling Fugitives

Exhibition Fugitive gives enslaved individuals a face

There is a new exhibition called Fugitive on display in the hall of the Erasmus Building. The portraits in the exhibition represent enslaved individuals in the former Cape Colony. Historian Karl Bergemann and forensic artists Kathryn Smith and Pearl Mamathuba from the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa) have reconstructed multiple portraits based on eyewitness accounts from 19th-century newspapers.

Fugitive is a project in which Smith and Mamathuba created digital facial reconstructions of enslaved individuals. Alongside text panels, the portraits depict escaped enslaved persons in what is now South Africa in the period before and around emancipation on 1 December 1838. When enslaved individuals escaped, owners often placed a notice in the newspaper describing the runaway individuals' physical features. These factual characteristics were used in the project to create reconstructions of the escaped enslaved individuals.

Eight portraits from this project are on display in the Erasmus Building. In the video below, you can learn more about the portraits and the reconstruction process within Fugitive.

Read more about Fugitives on the website

Connection between Stellenbosch and Nijmegen 

In the underlying research Biography of an uncharted people, two former Master's students in History from Radboud University collaborated as interns. This is one of the examples of the partnership with Stellenbosch University on slavery research. According to Radboud historian Dries Lyna, this exhibition is a beautiful step in the increasingly strong connection between the two universities.

About the artists 

Kathryn Smith and Pearl Mamathuba are currently the only two academically trained forensic artists in South Africa. Both graduated from the University of Dundee's MSc Forensic Art and Facial Identification program (Smith in 2013, Mamathuba in 2019) and specialised in forensic facial imaging through visual art at various stages of their careers. They both work at VIZ.Lab, a research group focusing on digital visualization strategies for forensic and archaeological research, as well as research projects at the intersection of art and science.

This exhibition is made possible by the Centre for Art Historical Documentation.

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