01. A New Paradigm
rapidly declining biodiversity
The world is facing a conservation crisis driven by habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade. Rangers are risking their lives trying to defend our last wild places against criminal syndicates. The population of African rhino’s is declining drastically and as of now it seems that we may lose the species before long. Vincent Mock, an artist who received the Van Vlissingen Art Prize for his work on combining art and conservation, helps to communicate the poaching story and raise funds for rhino conservation.
This impressive and perhaps controversial artwork is made from three real white rhinoceros skulls. These iconic beasts have fallen victim to the exponentially increasing poaching atrocities carried out in Africa today. Rhino horn is currently the most expensive ‘commodity’ in the world. In weight, it fetches more than diamonds and gold. Rhino horn is in great demand as both a status symbol and a healing agent, mainly in China and Vietnam.
This innovative project is aimed to raise awareness using contemporary art as a medium, while at the same time being part of the discussion and conveying a message very close to the heart of the artist. The skulls originate from Marakele Park, South Africa where Mock has worked managing a rhino breeding area. Ever since being confronted with Africa’s poaching problem first hand, the artist has been obsessed with telling an activistic conservation story through his work. It took a legal team (De Roos Advocaten) over three years to gain permission of both the South African and Dutch governments (CITES) for this extensive and ongoing art project.
There are two variations of the work. One (a triptych) is made from real white rhino skulls covered in gold leaf and engraved by Chinese artist and master calligrapher Zhou Le Sheng (1959) with a +-2300 year old text from the Tao Te Ching, originally written by Lao Tzu. The ancient text strikes the essence of nature conservation even though it arose in a time when humans were much more in harmony with their natural environment. The horns of the sculptures are made of semi transparent cast glass a though they are vanishing.
The other variation of the work consists of a limited edition (12) of bronze sculptures cast from one of the original skulls. The bronze also has Lao Tzu’s chapter 39 hand carved in it. Both the bronze and original skulls are on display together, although the real skulls may legally never be sold.
The real skulls can be rented out to interested parties who can exhibit the pieces and thereby contribute a ‘rent’, all of which will go to the Hooked on Life foundation which was set up to create both awareness on the consumer side of rhino horn in China and Vietnam as well as investing in rhino reintroduction programs and new science for conservation.
The bronze series are for sale and 100% of the profits generated will go into the ‘Hooked on Life’ foundation. Thanks to many dedicated individuals the sculptures are now a reality and on their way to serve as both a symbol of awareness while also conveying a tangible message to conserve these iconic megafauna and their habitat.
02. Sold overseas
gold leaf or bronze
now serve as a symbol for humankind’s destruction of the marine environment. Every day, the fishing industry relentlessly deploys millions of longline fish hooks into the water to capture iconic wildlife to be sold as a mere commodity. Today’s challenge is to choose whether we aim to live in such a world or to be mesmerized by its remaining natural beauty.
From a distance, the life-size shark, turtle, tuna, hammerhead, and manta ray sculptures appear to be featherlight, suspended in space as if free-floating weightlessly. Like real fish, they seem to celebrate the open space as their ocean.
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