The physical spaces we encounter are invested with symbolism and metaphor
Mythic ties exist in our spiritual and cultural activities in various altered forms. Classic stories have morphed through time to represent collective thinking. We live in a time when Greek mythology exists independently from its origins and the belief system that sustained it. The evolution provides a metaphorical language, which allows us to explore, share, and understand current perceptions.
and are thus much enriched for this interplay between fantasy and reality -
a process of enrichment of place that also enriches self,
and offers to all who encounter a rich place to live 'creatively'. ~Sarah Menin
Cerberus served the god Hades by guarding the gates to the Underworld. The grotesque dog was not only depicted with three heads, but also with the tail of a serpent and fifty snakes jetting from his back. Depending on the source, the three heads saw and represented either the past, present, and future or birth, youth, and old age. Although these beliefs are no longer held, he remains an icon of fierceness, monstrosity, and physical mutation. My strategy for using Cerberus is to represent the mythological creature as a set of abstract concepts based on his current iconography and through expanding these notions. His presence allows viewers to think about the installation through ambiguous principles and values, rather than being confronted with a representation of a contemporary god. In this way, he becomes a metaphor for the complexity of the present by revealing something through the past. The passage of time allows for his character to transmute and take on further significance. I sculpted the heads to represent the complexity of aggression, survival, and vulnerability in one being. In my depiction, the ribs are exposed counter to its muscular physicality and one paw is extremely small revealing deformity.
The monster's middle head extends down to the shallow pool to drink water. A water ripple originates at the tongue several times a minute. The movement is subtle and draws attention to the physical presence of water in the reflecting pool. The pool becomes a portal to imagery representing the moments one may expect after death or in a near death situation. The video depicts transcendence through a passageway revealing an eye looking back. The eye fades into a river before taking the viewer back through the light tunnel. The idea of transition from one mode of being to another relates to the custom of baptism and death baths. In these rituals, water is blessed and regarded to have extraordinary or profound power for re-birth. Therefore, water is not only regarded as a life-sustaining element, but is also believed to have spiritual cleansing powers in many religions. The pool not only physically connects the three-headed dog to the portal, but also creates a visible tie between opposing forces (good versus evil). The touch of the tongue to the water is an encounter of complimentary and contrasting elements.
The vulnerable head looks in the direction of a wall-mounted video portal. Viewers peer through a clear circle in the black acrylic done to reveal video of swirling green and blue liquid. The whirlpool swirls forward and backward, continuously, relating to the rhythm of breathing. This element illustrates Cerberus' internal turmoil.
Artist | 2010