Archaeology of Sacrifice

Ignacio Acosta

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 living there 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, non-humans 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 almost certainly, the Celts did not intend for these remains to be uncovered. In archaeology, formulating past beliefs involves a delicate navigation between fiction and reality in which 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 whilst 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, Archeology of Sacrifice reflects on the precariousness of our planet and its unsolicited submission to humanity.

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. It was produced as result of the Scholarship 2020 of the ZF Art Foundation, Friedrichshafen, Germany, filmed during Principal Residency Program, La Becque Résidence d’artistes, La-Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland and presented first by ZF Art Foundation at the Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen.

(Text by Ellen Lapper and Ignacio Acosta)


IMAGES (video stills from top)

CGI visual of imaginary mineral using 3D modeling techniques, developed in collaboration with Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds (Pa.LaC.E).

Drone view of an excavator at Le Mormont, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland.

Drone view of hydroelectric dam building structure, Lac de l’Hongrin, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland.

Painted rock at Le Mormont Quarry, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland.

CGI visual of a limestone collected at Le Mormont using photogrammetry 3D based modeling technology, developed in collaboration with Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds (Pa.LaC.E).

Archaeological excavation at Le Mormont (video still from Le crépuscule des Celtes by Stéphane Goël, Climage, 2008).

CGI visual of an excavator under water using photogrammetry-based 3D modeling, technology from drone perspective, developed in collaboration with Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds (Pa.LaC.E).

Detail at the archive of the Musée Cantonal d’Archeologie et d’Histoire, Lausanne, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland.

View of the Lac Léman, La Becque Résidence d’artistes, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland.


Archaeology of Sacrifice, two-channel video installation
Installation view, ZeppLab, Zeppelin Museum, Friedrichshafen, Germany, 2020
[image credit: Copyright ZF Art Foundation, Photography: Rafael Krötz]

Ignacio Acosta