Patterns of Evolution - the Out-of-Africa-model Samantha Thole

Photo: © Charlott Markus

Samantha Thole developed a new series of wall paintings for this exhibition in which the relationship between evolution and cultural development take centre stage.

The wall painting Patterns of evolution, the multiregional model ??and Patterns of evolution, the Out-of-Africa-model show various views on the origins of the human race. It is generally accepted that 2 million years ago, populations of the Homo erectus began to spread from Africa to other parts of the Ancient World. But how did the modern day Homo sapiens evolve from its predecessors?

On the one hand there is the theory that everyone descends from the same source. Patterns of evolution, the Out-of-Africa-model is a schematic overview of the theory that modern man originated during a unique evolutionary event within one population of the archaic sapiens in Africa (the predecessor of the Homo sapiens). It is argued that descendants have spread throughout the entire Ancient World and have replaced other species of human beings.

In contrast to the Out-of-Africa model, there is the multiregional model. Patterns of evolution, the multiregional model?? shows the theory that there are a number of simultaneous and equal developments during which both exchange and cross-pollination between various races occurred. The multiregional model argues that the process of evolutionary change continued in all archaic sapiens, which is why the geographic populations in Asia, Africa and Europe evolved and developed into modern humans (with a great deal of exchanging of genes).

The floral patterns of the wall paintings are based on the famous and popular Dutch Boerenbont pattern from Maastricht pottery (Petrus Ragout/Sphinx and Société Ceramique, ca. 1860-1919).
The wall covering painting The Blind Watchmaker / Mitochondrial Eve shows the flower pattern that is based on a fictional evolution in floral shapes with mutations in each generation. The shape is inspired by a family tree that shows how a population within fifteen generations can be traced to one evolutionary line, with one mother as its origin. This kind of genealogical research is based on analyzing Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), DNA that is not located in the cell nucleus but in the mitochondria. This can only be inherited via the mother. The ‘Mitochondrial Eve’ is a woman who lived 200,000 years ago in Africa and who is the common ancestor of all human beings who are alive today.

The title The Blind Watchmaker is borrowed from the book by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. In this book, he presents his arguments for evolution based on natural selection. He responds to the theological ‘analogy of the watchmaker’ in which the complexity of organisms are compared to a sophisticated object such as a watch.

This comparison is used to prove that everything has been created by God, because it is argued that when there is a complex design there must be a designer too. Dawkins explains in this book how evolutionary mechanisms work by giving scientific explanations, supported by algorithms written by himself that demonstrate biodiversity through natural selection.

The design is carried out in the pattern of 'Indiennes': these are French interpretations of Indian fabrics that were imported by the Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) in the 17th century. Their enormous popularity threatened the local textile industries in England and France, which is why these exotic materials were banned with the death penalty as punishment. They were worn at home or hidden underneath other clothing.

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