"Ox Eye Moon"
30" x 22"
handmade collage on stonehenge paper
I've been working lately on building my own environments; I'm using larger paper, which gives me room to grow, and have eliminated the directly violent aspects of my older works (hara-kiris and decapitations). This piece was the first large composition which felt successful to me.
To me this is a meditative portrait. The landscape consists of decaying matter and lustrous new growth; this represents balance to me, since nothing can grow without something to feed upon - no beauty emerges from deathless worlds. So in a way this is a macrocosm of natural cycles, and a rejection of the way humans in general are constantly attempting to retain their youth and prolong their lives. Immortality is a quality generally reserved for divinity, so it makes sense to me that the more inroads we make into these things, the less regard we seem to have for the world we actually inhabit, as though we are above it.
The elements involved are from a variety of natural systems - arctic and desert, oceanic, and from within the body. More specifically, the moon is an ox eye, the large boulder is a lung, with the bronchial tree revealed. The flowers are from both the desert and the arctic, and the branching elements consist of coral, finger bones, and arteries. The lady's fangs were originally the horns of a gazelle.
I generally view the seashells on the heads as a rather dichotomous representation; mainly as being lost in thought, engaged in an internal dialogue, but also as a representation of consciousness - how they are responding to and perceiving their environment.
I also find it striking how well seashells often do resemble fashionable hats. Aesthetically, humans are rather bland (considering how elaborate nature can be), certainly we are not wild. I see fashion (or even body modification) a little bit as a way to make up for our own lack of natural embellishment, to feel closer to nature.
On upcoming works, I'm planning to focus less on narrative aspects within my collages, and continue developing these landscapes and abstract compositions.
By Alexis Mackenzie