BioPods_V2; The Nebuchadnezzar Suite is the second contribution from the Where Science Meets Art ARC project to the Bundanon Trust SiteWorks programme. The thematic for Siteworks 2015 was Feral and the three Biomorphic sculptures can be considered as Biology turned feral as Sculpture or naturally Sculpture turned feral as Biology.
As in the previous BioPod_V01 each of these works was designed to be inhabited, standing, sitting and laying down and each form was provided with a solar powered audio resonator system that spins the vocal narrative responses to Boyd’s Nebuchadnezzar paintings.
How it all starts off!
The orientation and motivation of the work is drawn from the large series of Arthur Boyd paintings depicting Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian king of overarching military ambition who for a period of seven years was outcast into the wilderness to live as an animal, re-wilded if you like as a form of rehabilitation and redemption. Sadly from the historical record this period of humility did not have much affect on the King who returned to his chauvinist despotism.
Of course history, even ancient history, abounds with tales of Hubris. Shelly’s 1818 poem Ozymandias relates the material vestiges of the earthly powers of Rameses II
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
In a similar vein the over-brimming, warlike ambitions of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar which are related in the Book of Daniel, are counter-balanced by a period of exile in the wilderness, where he becomes as if an animal – a feral being.
The same houre was the thing fulfilled vpon Nebuchad-nezzar,
and he was driuen from men, and did eate grasse as oxen,
and his body was wet with the dew of heauen,
till his haires were growen like Egles feathers,
and his nailes like birds clawes.
Arthur Boyd painted Nebuchadnezzar in an almost obsessive manner over several years; producing some seventy allegorical works featuring an outcast, tortured figure in a blazing Australian landscape – the human reduced to the sub-human.
Visitors are required to crawl on all fours to enter the works – forcing them to emulate the pose of the savage Nebuchadnezzar in the wilderness. Each of the three sculptures relates a vocal narrative that corresponds to the physical position that visitors must take up after entering the sculpture; one for sitting, another for standing and the third for laying down.
The King Stands
The King Stands in a burning desert weeping.
The King Stands for his portrait.
The King Stands and stares at the horizon.
The King Stands and bows his head in sorrow.
The King Stands but does not brush the flies from his face.
The King Stands dreaming of Kingdoms.
The King Stands and shivers.
The King Stands naked and hungry.
The King Stands and smiles stupidly.
The King Stands and paws the ground with his talons.
The King Stands motionless and empty.
The King Stands and screams silently.
The King Stands and is struck by lightning.
The King Stands staring at heaven but does not understand.
The King Stands and waits forever.
The King Stands and light streams from his head.
The King Stands and chews the cud.
The King Sits
The King Sits and birds peck at his head.
The King Sits under a tree with melancholic thoughts.
The King Sits in judgement of emptiness.
The King Sits on a throne of dried grass.
The King Sits in his own excrement and is foul.
The King Sits and sobs quietly.
The King Sits by a rock and tries to remember.
The King Sits and scratches himself.
The King Sits and attempts to form a word.
The King Sits for his portrait.
The King Sits picking at his sores.
The King Sits and slowly chews grass.
The King Sits and grunts.
The King Sits but cannot recall his throne.
The King Sits dribbling saliva into his beard.
The King Sits rocking slowly back and forth.
The King Sits and counts his blessings.
The King Lays
The King Lays staring at his claws.
The King Lays engulfed by his own stench.
The King Lays with aching bones.
The King Lays dreaming of a huge tree.
The King Lays dreaming of four monsters.
The King Lays on a bed of coals but feels nothing.
The King Lays in the open longing for his palace.
The King Lays and trembles in fear.
The King Lays with visions of men consumed by flame.
The King Lays and a tree grows from his bowels.
The King Lays and birds peck out his eyes.
The King Lays in a pool of his own blood.
The King Lays and is visited by ghosts.
The King Lays for his portrait.
The King Lays dreaming of his harem.
The King Lays and becomes a skeleton.
The King Lays and flowers blossom from his body.
The King Lays on a hoarde of gold.