The Utilitas series explores the relationship of human beings within nature. The term Utilitas (usefulness in Latin) refers to the act of making nature a commodity. Although members of the animal kingdom, we constantly quest to deny this fact and separate ourselves from nature. This series of images examines and comments on the socio-political and cultural constructs developed to create the illusion of dominance or ownership over nature and our environment – ranging from scientific classification and exploration to rituals of ownership through naming, from religious division to revised evolution through man-made (un-natural) selection.
Utilitas (Africa) 2017
Ink, graphite, acetate and gold leaf on paper, 60 x 140 cm
I chose to depict a salmon because most salmons today are being farmed – an act of un-natural selection. The salmon as a species is no longer on a true evolutionary path. At the same time, wild salmons keep swimming to the upper river to find their spawning ground; like many other animals, they are defined by migration and by a specific place.
Ink, graphite, acetate and gold leaf oon paper, 50 x 40 cm
These four artworks reflect on the act of migrating. Animals migrate to survive, to reach new resources. In this sense, migrating is a natural act. When human beings migrate, we follow primitive behaviour patterns. Trying to limit or stop migration is one of the many ways for mankind to dominate nature.
Ink, graphite, acetate and gold leaf on paper, 35 x 75 cm
This artwork features the schematic of the “Brookes”, a British slave ship. This references the idea of false ownership and life as a commodity.
Ink, graphite, acetate and gold leaf on paper, 45 x 75 cm
The octopus appears in many island creation myths and is a source of constant speculation with in the scientific community. As one question is answered regarding its origin, man more questions result. As an extremely intelligent and physically developed animal, its death after giving birth and therefore its inability to pass on learned behaviour has resulted in an evolutionary paralysis.
Ink, graphite, acetate and gold leaf on paper, 50 x 80 cm