The Ancient Herbivore

The Ancient Herbivore exhibited in 15th Istanbul Biennial 2017

This shackled rhinoceros is a reflection of the creature’s biggest threat to survival, that of mankind. The piece was influenced by Coleridge’s famous poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a bizarre and unsettling narrative full of fantastical imagery and magic that in part questions the morality of man’s attitude towards animals. The poem tells us that all God’s creatures deserve mutual respect and here, The Ancient Herbivore represents a warning, inviting the viewer to question their own prejudices and presumptions. The saddle may be seen as a reference to one of the species closest living relatives, the horse. This animal however is without its rider; he is chained with the saddle on his head, and in a way turning our preconceptions of the animal on their head.  Unlike the traditional almost-domesticated festival elephants often seen in chains, here those of The Ancient Herbivore symbolise its near extinction. The rhinoceros dates back to pre-historic times, roaming the earth for around 50 million years. Then they were woollier, and probably ironically without their horn, the very thing that nowadays is contribute to their near extinction. These magnificent land mammals, which have always played a critical part towards the ecosystem, have a tremendous impact on the structure of their environment.