A theoretical and visual research developed by Ada Popowicz

Basketology is currently rewoven into a new website. Nothing is permanent.
You can still read the ever-updated thoughts on Spears and Baskets below.

For the old website click here

I. The Tool That Made Us

Among the many iconic products of modern visual culture, there is an image of lasting popularity and importance. It's an internationally recognised picture that managed to remain engraved in the common memory and use for almost six decades. The March of Progress or The Road to Homo Sapiens, drawn in 1965 by Rudolph Zallinger for the Early Man volume of the Life Nature Library represents a 25 million year-long linear progression from a Dryopithecus Primate to the Modern Man. Even though the image has gained a fair amount of anthropological criticism and is officially discredited as a scientific reference, it still remains one of the most iconic and recognisable visuals of our time and its many versions and reproductions are used regularly for both educational and comedic purposes.

March Of Progress

The important characters in the illustration are obviously the six figures representing different stages of our species' evolution. There is however another interesting presence. One crucial tool accompanies the march towards civilisation.

Interestingly, the spear appears only once—in the hand of a Cro-magnon Man, the last figure preceding the Modern Man. It looks as if the spear was a key object that allowed for the evolutionary jump from a primitive savage to a civilised man. We made the spear and the spear made us.

Tool of domination and aggression as THE companion of humankind.

Basketology asks the question: what would happen if instead of a spear, the pre-cambrian man was holding a basket? What if it was a woman? What kind of society and cultural values would emerge?

II. Storytelling

Author Ursula K. Le Guin did not agree with that story. In The Carrier Bag Theory Of Fiction (1986), she suggested that the first defining cultural device of humanity wasn't a spear but a basket. The spear retained its primary reputation due to the rhetoric of storytelling—it is easier to tell a story of a singular hero killing a mammoth than a collective effort of fruit-picking. But the tool by which Ursula wants to define her female, non-dominant self is a receptacle. A thing to hold things in. A basket.

Illustration of mammoth hunters

III. Basket-like VS Spear-like

A spear and a basket are objects that transcend their physical boundaries. I want to look at cultural associations and physical attributes/structure of both artefacts and present them as guides towards ways of thinking, seeing perceiving. Objects do not have an agenda of their own, but embedded in them—through making, usage and associations—is an approach towards relation between entities, a guidance for behaviour, an attitude toward the otherness.

A man throwing a spear

IV. Spear Stories and Basket Approaches




The Act Of Basket-Making