With A New Paradigm, Mock wants to highlight the rapidly declining biodiversity in our environment to help protect the white and black African rhino species from becoming extinct. The skulls used for A New Paradigm originate from Marakele Park, South Africa, where Mock managed a rhino breeding area from 2006 to 2007; a time when the poaching plight began to increase exponentially. After receiving the Van Vlissingen Art Prize for his work combining art and nature conservation, the need for Vincent Mock to actively communicate the story of rhino poaching and raise funds for rhino protection starkly intensified.
Since 2015, nature photographer and documentary filmmaker Fleur van der Minne and Vincent Mock have collaborated on various projects. Their shared belief that contemporary art is an opportunity to rekindle our distanced relationship with nature has encouraged them to combine their skillsets once again to create something exquisite.
These precious and perhaps controversial artworks are made from deceased white rhino skulls who have fallen victim to the atrocious poaching practices in Africa where the rhino’s horn is often used as a commodity or sold overseas. Mock coats the skulls in gold leaf or bronze and adds semi-transparent glass horns to replicate the severed horn. The skull is then engraved with a passage from the Tao Te Ching, an approximately 2,300 year-old text originally written by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. Having been written at a time when the symbiosis between nature and humans was far stronger, the ancient text embodies the essence of nature conservation.
Rhino horn is currently the most expensive ‘commodity’ in the world, fetching more than even gold. In China and Vietnam, rhino horn is in high demand as both a status symbol and a healing agent. In collaboration with the Number 5 Foundation, founded by Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, it is therefore Mock’s aim to raise awareness for the conservation of the African rhino by telling their story internationally through the medium of art.
TRANSLATION ENGRAVINGS RHINO SKULL
In harmony with the Tao,
the sky is clear and spacious,
the earth is solid and full,
all creatures flourish together,
content with the way they are,
endlessly repeating themselves,
When man interferes with the Tao,
the sky becomes filthy,
the earth becomes depleted,
the equilibrium crumbles,
creatures become extinct.
The Master views the parts with compassion,
because he understands the whole,
His constant practice is humility.
He doesn’t glitter like a jewel
but lets himself be shaped by the Tao,
as rugged and common as stone.
Lao Tsu – Tao Te Ching +-300BC