What inspired you to tell this particular story?
I guess its just another take on themes I’m always trying to reference in my work – the fleeting nature of life, the desire to transcend, religiosity, the possibility of change, suffering, death, the exultation of nature, human folly, overconsumption, destruction… the death spiral of capitalism, all that good stuff! On a more objective level I just wanted to make something new but that had as little impact as possible, that I didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything other than buy some stuff on eBay (in this case vintage butterfly collections and expired 1990’s polaroid) and go to across the road to my studio and put my headphones on, listen to some good music and see what comes out.
How do butterflies encapsulate flourish/collapse in your eyes?
I think butterflies are a particularly potent symbol for the environmental crisis of this time. They have fascinated man from time immemorial and across cultures –one aspect of that – the parable of the life cycle – that first we are born – then as caterpillar, the insatiable worm toiling on earth – then the chrysalis as death, the coffin – then the butterfly as the resurrection or reemergence in an afterlife. So whether you wanna read that in a religious or scientific context it is by nature of being a cycle, circular, it goes round and round endlessly.
So they are symbolic of hope and renewal but simultaneously there is also a long tradition of butterflies representing darker forces of temptation, destruction and death. It seems like that could be the reading we also need to pay attention to now, the dark messenger, the prospect of the end of that life cycle completely, the spirit crushed, the end, and not just for the butterfly or the insect or the bee, or that orangutan we have all seen on Instagram but all of us because we are of course inextricably interlinked.
What do we have to learn from these creatures and their extinction?
I should make it clear that these photographs are not literal documentation, in the sense that these I have no idea to their conservation status or even individual names. I bought them as antique collections on eBay. I am a total layman in terms of lepidopterology. What I’m thinking about is more subjective, as in the butterfly representing the natural world, a metaphor for the material expression of the endless creative mind of evolution, nature, God (perfect or imperfect creator) whatever you want to call it. I’m just looking myself and asking you to look, and to ask yourself what an amazing intricate unknowable place this earth is, how amazing intricate unknowable these creatures are, how amazing intricate unknowable a creature you are, we are, the symphony of life, the beautiful struggle, what are you gonna do to help, not that I think it will make any difference, its just (as the man said) a sad poem
What does metamorphosis mean to you?
Salvation is present in every one of us