elephas anthropogenus

For his Elephas Anthropogenus project, Uli Westphal collected European illustrations of elephants dating from the fall of Rome to the end of the Renaissance, a period of time when very few people actually knew what an elephant looked like.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, elephants virtually disappeared from Western Europe. Since there was no real knowledge of how this animal actually looked, illustrators had to rely on oral and written transmissions to morphologically reconstruct the elephant, thus reinventing an actual existing creature. This tree diagram traces the evolution of the elephant depiction throughout the middle ages up to the age of enlightenment.

Uli, who was one the early artists to be featured at Boise’s own MING Studios back in summer of 2014 with his exhibit “Cornucopia”

“For his Boise show, Westphal explored American supermarkets and agriculture for inspiration, bringing similar themes to examine our local food systems. Without being heavy handed, Westphal’s work urges us to look closer at where our food comes from and how it’s being produced.”

[via kottke]

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