Elephants Adrift

“In African mythology the elephant reincarnates carrying the soul of a murdered God. It is thus the embodiment of the transmigration of souls. It is also the metaphor for the world’s preoccupation with Africa as an exotic location. The elephant thus embodies the world’s romanticism with Africa…” Andries Botha

South African artist Andries Botha has been paying homage to the strength, majesty and perseverance of elephants throughout his career.  Blending Western and African elements he has created numerous life size pieces, both as individuals and in groups, that portray a sense of mysticism in their unexpected settings.

The piece above, entitled You Can Buy My Heart and Soula translation from a Zulu poem, was originally installed for Beautfort’s second Triennial of Contemporary Art by the Sea in 2006 off the coast of Belgium. A group of 10 African artists worked with him to form the metal skeletons that support hundreds of inconsistently sized pieces of driftwood.

Those familiar with Botha’s work wouldn’t be surprised to see similar structures adorning city streets or parks, either in the same driftwood construction or created by filling blocks of stone within heavy wire pachyderm shaped “cages”.  Then again, those familiar with the work wouldn’t be surprised to learn that sometimes politics have gotten in the way of even such seemingly unstoppable forms, as is the case with Three Elephants.

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Photos via the Andries Botha website.

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