Tomer Sapir | Terra Incognita
solo exhibition at Chelouche gallery, Tel Aviv
15.03.12 – 05.05.12
Curator: Avi Lubin
In his exhibition “Terra Incognita” Tomer Sapir features quasi-organic configurations which constantly evolve, blurring the boundaries between the bustling present and the prehistorical past. Relics and fossils of creatures from an invented prehistoric era awaken into an implausible present. Despite the fossils’ static quality, something bubbles under the surface. The viewer transpires in a suspended present, between a catastrophe that may have already occurred (the skeleton of an upside-down carcass, traces of an epidemic, a natural catastrophe or a manmade disaster) and an imminent danger (seductive traps, cocoons about to hatch at any minute, a bulb taking shape within the upturned skeleton, possibly a toxin possibly a parasite).
Sapir continues a process which was set in motion in his ongoing project “Research for the Full Crypto-Taxidermical Index,” elaborating his engagement with cryptids, animals for which there is no scientific proof and which are not identified in the official zoological index. He presents the objects in a manner which challenges the ability to differentiate between a journey into a fictive arena, a visit to a natural history museum, and a visit to an art gallery.
Terra incognita (unknown land) is a Latin term used by cartographers to demarcate areas of land yet unmapped or undocumented. These territories were marked in medieval maps of the world by painterly depictions of mythological beasts, at times with the added inscription: “HC SVNT DRACONES” (Here be Dragons).
The world introduced by Sapir is underlain by a duality between the use or imitation of nature (the findings of a researcher, gathered leftovers or findings, traces of what once was) and what is quintessentially man-made (sculptural works, use of synthetic materials). It is precisely this dichotomy, however, which makes for a space and time where Sapir’s sculptures/creatures may exist, a gray area which sustains a tension between history, mythology, and fiction.