Earlier this year, the world was introduced to the Outliers civilization, recently discovered by visual artist and part-time archaeologist, Sudie Rakusin. Guided by a mysterious book carrying coded messages and having researched basic archaeological field methods, Rakusin began her excavations, and remained secretive about her explorations until pictures of her dig site were leaked online. New questions emerged about the world of Outliers, leading to a public exhibition of found artifacts in April of 2015.
Rakusin connects the discovery of this world — whose culture seems to have been centered around art, beauty, and mystery — with a longing she has felt since her earliest memories. As an adult, Rakusin discovered the German word sensucht (ze: n zuxt), which references an inconsolable longing for a place and things that seem familiar but have never existed on the Earthly plane in our own experience; a desire for what is sometimes called our own “far-off country” or “home.” “For years, I’d known that my artwork was an echo, a vibration, a glimmer of this place,” Rakusin said in an interview at her secluded home in the woods. “I just hadn’t realized this world could actually exist.”
The newest round of findings from the Outliers dig, which Rakusin plans to exhibit at a November show at FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill, features a stunning set of poppy sculptures found at the dig site. The poppy sculptures are each a foot or more across, and range in height from five to ten feet tall. Also found nearby was a small cache of perfectly preserved seeds. The geometric orientation of the sculptures to the seed store suggests a possible ritual function for the sculptures, which might have been an offering to an ancient fertility goddess of the Outliers culture. The sculptures are believed to be life-sized replicas of actual plants, according to preliminary research. “Most poppies known to our modern world only grow to a height of two to three feet,” indicated archaeobotanist Dr. C. H. Croft. “To envision a world in which people may have walked among poppies that towered over them… It’s simply amazing!”
For Rakusin’s part, she remains intrigued but not surprised, saying , “the more I learn about the Outliers civilization the more I realize I’ve experienced it before, in dreams, in whispers.” When asked to elaborate, she added: “It is a culture held together by threads of unspeakable beauty; I can only hope my findings will weave those threads into a body of work that will one day help our culture learn from theirs.”
You can see Rakusin’s exhibition of latest findings from the Outliers Dig at the 3 Artists: 3 Worlds show at FRANK in Chapel Hill in November.
Show runs from November 10-December 6, with an opening reception on November 13 from 6-9 pm.
Article reprinted with permission from Better Digs and Findings magazine.