The Transformation Of Things (2010)

For the ‘Abstract/Object’ exhibition I released two butterflies into the gallery space.

Photography: Alex Wisser.

The idea for The Transformation of Things came from the Ancient Greek word, ‘psyche’. Its first meaning is “spirit, breath, life or animating force”, commonly interpreted as the soul. But it is also a homonym for butterfly, leading to a number of representations of the soul as a butterfly, often issuing from the lips of the dead or dying. Butterflies can also be viewed as a metaphor for rebirth or reincarnation due to their period of metamorphosis in a cocoon. This transformation from humble caterpillar into beautiful butterfly speaks to a spiritual transcendence. My aim with this intervention is to highlight a thread of mortality and spirituality in the home and the gallery, and in this exhibition.

“Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn’t know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakeable Zhuangzi. But he didn’t know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called The Transformation of Things.”