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Elephant was placed as an opening point in the central pavilion of the recently concluded Biennale di Venezia. It stands in the middle of the precious Octagonal Hall, under the dome decorated with the blue, gold, and red colored frescoes of Galileo Chini. This historical building was inaugurated in 1909 on the occasion of the 8th Art Exhibition and was recently restored

Katharina Fritsch's work, a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, is a real-size cast of an elephant, a female elephant as the artist prefers to point out. It was made in 1987 from a specimen preserved at the Museum of Natural History in Bonn; this work is characterized by the hyper-realist approach same to other works of Fritsch, like the four metres high blue Hahn/Cock sculpture that was exhibited in Trafalgar Square in 2013.

The size and immobility of the animal in that context are already an anomaly. In the Biennale focused on the human and the post-human, on the relationship with otherness, the elephant dominates as a symbol of a continuum; man changes, redefines himself, and it remains and observes the change.

The folds of a huge body and precise anatomical details are like memory grooves in which we can review the passage of time. As if in the great chaos and welter of self-definitions Elefant/Elephant is an immutable, firm point.

Its magnificence and physical dimensions instill awe and make us fall silent, make us aware of our vain efforts, and the silence of this figure, in contrast to our din and impulsive, unrestrained clamour, transforms it into a totem animal, into pure spirit.

Imagining a different language, we accept its stern and powerful way of looking down on us mere mortals, confused hunters fearful of its size, on us who are always trying to measure ourselves against everything, even the immeasurable.

In front of it, we relish surrendering, listening, and taking pleasure in accepting our inferiority and size in that room that looks like a wunderkammer.

The matriarch of species in danger of extinction gives us a lofty, patient look and leaves us to self-reflection ... anthropocentrism no longer makes sense.

by DMM

for Dare Clan

images provided by DMM


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