Connected: Laocoon

Connected: Laoccon
66″x102″x5″
gunpowder, graphite, acrylic, wood. [2011]

This is a continuation of a recent theme: re-purposing powerful or violent historical characters that have been immortalized in sculpture. This piece is especially poignant as the father struggles to free himself (and his 2 sons) from a serpent, which I have conveniently removed. Without seeing the deadly serpent the characters are fragmented, ripped apart by an unknown force.

Through the title I intend to reference the possibility of connection through fragmentation and dissolution. At many points I am concerned with the fragmented community and individual in modern terms: the notion of being powerfullly politically ‘connected’ and of course the social media ‘connection’ so prevalent now.

Mirroring the story of Laocoon, the art piece references the tragedy of the unknown: the Trojans did not fully understand why Laocoon was devoured by the serpent, they made an inaccurate assumption, they refused to heed his warnings, and they were consequently conquered. The original sculpture also had a confused history, but has survived in part because of it’s content and in part because of it’s technical and visual mastery. Essentially, it is too beautiful and the tragedy is displayed too poignantly to let the piece dissolve. It has seduced us.

In an effort to offer assimilation and provide a counterpoint to the fragmentation a circular, decorative pattern (reminiscent of baroque moldings) provides a backdrop. In some ways offering a feminine voice to counterbalance the machismo of the work, the floral symbol also echoes a level of nature’s seductive beauty. Amidst violence is this organic beauty: a stylized symbol of nature long ago co-opted into a tradition of wealth and power. The figurative portions of the work are beautiful enough to seduce, despite the tragic content, but acceptance is aided visually and subconsciously by the circular floral pattern. In the end, many portions of the content become subservient to traditions of beauty, which at it’s underpinnings replicate a history of violence, power, and atrocity that is seldom analyzed. If unconsidered due to seduction, then the content is unknown (invisible), perpetuating it’s stranglehold on society and emotive response.

Conclusion: So, I am using beauty to obscure the nature of violence and power, which is really another way to look at the intertwined nature of power, violence and beauty as often inseparable. And in this piece specifically, I am looking at the dissolution of character as we can no longer see the power structures that bind us.

All in all, it is a violent piece that is still quite pretty.

Ryder, 10/21/2011

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One thought on “Connected: Laocoon

  1. Pingback: Attraction | Ryder Richards

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