2014

Ostensibly an exercise in drawing and print (the image in part consists of fragments of paper upon which Maria has embossed and then rubbed impressions of South African coins) Sultan II is more properly a reflection on time, humanity and extinction. The inspiration for this work is drawn from J.M. Coetzee 2003 novel, Elizabeth Costello. In the title character͛s first lecture she discusses the cruel experiments performed by Wolfgang Kohler in the 1920s on an ape called Sultan who was forced into doing actions in order to get access to bananas to eat. Costello (and Coetzee) argument presented in the novel aside, the act of performing such experiments on a highly intelligent simian today fills one with horror. Today such great apes are endangered and, as is demonstrated in the novel, the experiment was essentially pointless and humiliating. In making Sultan II, Maria was reflecting deeply on the cruelty of humanity and acts of extinction. The coin rubbings Maria chose were from South African one and half-cents, denominations commonplace while growing up but now never seen (and in fact not minted for over a decade). The inflation that led to the ͚eradication͛ of these coins was mostly invisible to people on the street and did not seem to make much difference commercially. It is the visibility of extinction that I have chosen to focus on in this work: on Sultan͛s face and his posture, his physical presence. This presence will ultimately fragment into the nothing, much like the coins from which he is made, if action is not taken to preserve, protect and most importantly respect the natural world around us.