Observers of Heaven is inspired by ancient Phoenician creation mythology. The translations preserving the mythology were done by 1st century CE historian Philos of Byblos. They are based on surviving fragments of documents written by the Phoenician priest Sanchuniathon from Berytu. The myth describes existence before matter. All that existed was essentially a vast wind in a void. The wind created chaos, and from the chaos came a watery putrefaction. From this mixture the seeds of creation sprang forth, sparking the birth of the universe. At the same time, primordial creatures called zophasemin were produced. One translation for these creatures is observers of heaven, and they later developed into intelligent animals that populated the earth.
In my exhibition Observers of Heaven I develop my own mythology of creation and destruction inspired by the creatures described in the Phoenician myth. The creatures in the original myth bear witness to the creation of the universe in all of its violence and wonder. The animals in my narrative bear witness to a pivotal time of change, in which creation and destruction overlap. The installation captures a moment in a speculative future world of anthropogenic ecological collapse. The animals hover above a bleak landscape, either traversing through the air or situated upon small airborne islands of green. The islands are the last remnants of a once lush and living world - and perhaps may serve as seeds for the beginnings of something new. The landscape is composed of pale, dry and cracked depleted earth. It sits on aged wooden doors, symbols of moving from one place to the next. The riders and steeds represent species that would never normally encounter one another outside of human forces, and are all renditions of animals that are a close resemblance to endangered and recently extinct animals we know of in the present day. Each creature possesses fantastical qualities, such as human parts, unusual coloring, and additional limbs. These elements are both an acknowledgement of the human impact on these creatures as well as a nod to traditional mythological chimeras.
The chimeric travelers cross the barren landscape carrying white flags as symbols of surrender to the slow violence that has engulfed their world. The creatures assemble in unison to appeal to the heavenly beings above - the great apes. There are five great apes but only four are depicted. The fifth great ape - homosapien - is both conspicuously absent and present at the same time. Inspired by present day chaos and destruction, Observers of Heaven supposes a speculative future through a mythological lens and seeks to spark a question: what would the story of our world look like without us?