“With the increased evidence of the ascendancy of the Anthropocene, the impetus to seek out uncharted territories has gained significance.”
To bring the last of the wilderness to the armchair enthusiast, there has been an unwitting un-wilding of these terrains. Technological advancements which extend human sensory abilities have made it possible to reach domains that were previously not negotiable by humans. Think of the creatures of the deep, dwelling in darkness, under pressures that would crush the human body. The very act of seeing them implies that instruments – perfected by human invention – have been there. At that moment the wildest of places, beyond the reach of the human body, have been brought before our collective eyes. Exploration is an extension of the human spirit, but it often causes an extraction and exploitation of the earth’s resources and consequently, this human advancement produces an enormous amount of waste. This issue continues to be a concern that informs and motivates my recent work.
This is ‘Unencountered’. It comprises enigmatic creatures of the ocean rendered in precise detail and in a manner that makes them appear to float before the viewer. Yet they are not here, and I was never there to encounter them. The forms of these marine giants are contrasted against a backdrop of a paper cut pattern. The paper cut represents our science – our understanding of ecology. It is a reminder of the hiatus between looking and seeing. The impossibility of seeing something in the real sense with only our eyes is tested through the cut paperwork. Our minds begin to fill in the details through knowledge and experience. These cut-outs are also evocative of discarded fishing nets, one of the many kinds of debris produced in the Anthropocene, encountered by inhabitants of the seas.
Each of these works is a contemplation on natural phenomena: the foraging by Gray whales, that churn food from the ocean floor to the surface, upon which even birds can feed; the ramming by Bowhead whales that break ice sheets to move, thus creating oceanic pathways for numerous mammalian inhabitants of the Arctic seas. I see these giants as grand architects — their presence sequesters carbon and generates oxygen for all life on earth. They embody powerful natural processes. Yet they are vulnerable, helpless against the onslaught of oceanic pollution, the maelstrom of plastics and noise that have become the defining characteristic of our time in the Anthropocene.”
Sujay Sanan is a practicing visual artist, a passionate naturalist and (a self-taught) student of ecology and the environment. He has held three solo exhibitions in the last 6 years, exploring in great depth themes of ecology, climate change, local flora and fauna of the Cape Peninsula and most recently large sharks and Cetacea of the same region.
More on Sujay Sanan
Thursday 4 November 2021
18h00 – 20h30
COVID restrictions in place
4 November – 24 November 2021
10h00 – 16h00
Mondays – Fridays
Category:Exhibitions & Tours
October 22, 2021