Vestige | 2014
Vestige, a trace or remnant of something that is disappearing or no longer exists.
“Repurposed artefacts share the same space as non-functioning and nondescript fragments. Between these objects, a conversation is underway. Through the viewer’s gaze and the lens of time, each item negotiates its value as either something rare or commonplace. It points to a narrative or the lack of one. The item is owned. It was owned. The item is broken. It is forgotten. The item is repurposed and recycled. It is a symbol. It is forgotten.
“The only thing that is truly immortal is the lost whole that we reconstruct on the basis of fragments, that never existed in reality, and that therefore can never perish. However splendidly the fragment gleams, what fascinates us even more is the darkness surrounding it” (Glenn W. Most; 18).”
Once part of the “organic unity of the whole”, they received meaning from their “contribution to its total functionality” (Glenn W. Most; 11).
Like the torso of Apollo, their incompleteness allows the viewer to insert their own impressions and fictions into the space and darkness that might once have held the whole. In any attempt to understand their form and function, the viewer actively beautifies and mystifies each limb. They are artefacts of the viewer’s and artist’s imagination: a relic from a story that never existed.
Animal and human parts are merged, juxtaposing the divide between the civilised and uncivilised self. Through the animal’s gaze, we understand ourselves as being “other”. The life of animals, in civilised society, is a fragmented narrative from a past that we struggle to remember. Today, we work and live along ordered lines of motion. We speak the language of automation.
“The reduction of the animal, which has a theoretical as well as economic history, is a part of the same process as that by which men have been reduced to isolated production and consuming units” (John Berger ; 13).
Broken down, mapped and compartmentalized: the skin is a surface for branding by economic, political and historical processes that do not sit together as neatly as our inkling for linear narratives would like them to.
“Figurative language was the first to be born, proper meanings were the last to be found” (Rousseau in John Berger; 7).
Two figures stand astride. The ram has horns, but his body is cut-up. The impala stands on edge, his horns cut-off at the stumps. Both characters hold giant animal heads on fragile man-bodies. One of them carries a Panther, a fat house cat – he looks uncomfortable. The interaction of these figures creates an unfamiliar dioramic scene, devoid of context.
Despite their human forms and mannerisms, the half-animal figures and the domesticated cat, are not connected to us. In spite of their animal heads, they do not return the gaze of animals. Instead, “they look sideways. They look blindly beyond” (John Berger; 28) us.
By denying the viewers’ gaze, they deny any dialogue. In the same breathe they refuse to confirm the stories we create for them, in order to explain their function and form.
The potency of animal language is still there but their power and freedom lives only in the stories we tell ourselves.”
(Excerpts from Re/Collection, by Leigh Lentigo, 2014)
Unlikely Allies I & II consist of life size shaped plate etchings, each printed in 2 runs with multiple colours. The power-play between the characters comes into question; lines between perpetrator and victim become blurred. The works references issues around poaching and endangerment in South Africa, and also deal with more current concerns of xenophobic violence and discrimination.
Vestige, Nirox Projects, 2014.