Portraits



“The life of any organism depends on the possibility of its maintaining its own distinctness, a boundary within which it is contained, the terms of what we could call its self-possession.  Mimicry Caillois argues, is the loss of this possession, because the animal that merges with its setting becomes dispossessed, derealized, as though yielding to a temptation exercised on it by the vast outsideness of spaces itself, a temptation to fusion.”  — Corpus Delicti, Rosalind Krauss

In these portraits the viewer is invited by the mantis’ illusory gaze to anthropomorphize them.  This gaze, along with their distinct head and shoulders, are akin enough to our own that an uncomfortable tension is created between the mantis and viewer.  Superficially the tension is with their inhumanness — the way they feed, their distinct lack of consciousness, and their sexual cannibalism — but more subtly the tension is from their incidental, nascent mimicry of our form.  As a species we mimic one another in society while struggling to remain an individual; homogeny is valued even at the threat of losing ways to distinct individuality.  The mantis by being alien yet relatable erodes the viewer’s sense of self.  This is an old conversation.  Dracula and its strong definition of the vampire as man’s apex predator is a popular use for this concept though it has been eroded with more modern, and more human, treatments of the vampire.  The concept is most frequently used as horrific, but conversation needs to move past this usage.  As the number of acceptable others are eroded and ways differentiate ourselves become more limited we are threatened with losing ourselves to homogeny, and viewing the remaining other balefully.


These figures are made by using photographs to create three dimensional models of mantises which are then edited to emulate a Greece-roman bust.  These are then 3D printed.  The material while plastic appears and feels akin to unglazed porcelain.