Le lapin est mort…
The rabbit is dead…
by Gustavo Prado
In the 19th century, one of the main discussions in biology was whether the characteristics of change could be handed down to one's offspring or when the transformation matrix was accidental. What was actually under discussion was a more subtle issue that had to do with the capacity of our perception to attribute human characteristics to animated creatures which, in turn, reflected our own and established a distance between mankind and animals. The tests of viability and transformation were more a reflection of the will to see in them the effort, wear and tear and sacrifice we expect in ourselves and the fact that work will lead to improvement, adornment will pave the way for beauty and a combination of the two will lead to love...When Kenia Nárez works with these small, "intervened" animals, rather than an exercise in "gore," which only a superficial interpretation could invoke, I feel we are witnessing a game of enunciation along the lines of what we described earlier. Rabbits and at some point, their clothes acquire an inner life. This sardonic inner life in the afterlife is recalled with an extraordinary sense of humor in the following English children's song:
|The rabbit has a charming face:
Its private life is a disgrace
I really dare not name to you
The awful things that rabbits do;
Things that your paper never prints -
You only mention them in hints.
They have such lost, degraded souls
No wonder they inhabit holes;
When such depravity is found
It only can live underground.
|El conejo tiene una carita agraciada
pero su vida privada es una desgracia.
Realmente no puedo ni decirte a tí
Las cosas horribles que hacen los Conejos;
Cosas que no pueden ni imprimirse
Que solo se dicen en susurros.
Almas perdidas, tienen, degradadas son
Que a nadie sorprende que vivan en hoyos;
Cuando uno ve tal depravación,
solo puede vivir bajo tierra.
The sly, annoying rabbits in the photos, rather than adopting the classic positions for constructing a photograph or posing for the photograph, display the attitude one finds, for example in Thomas Gainsborough's painting, The Blue Boy. A character who, although one would assume he was posing for the painter, in fact seems to be posing for himself in a mirror. And by gesticulating and changing their appearance, they experience the momentary surprise of seeing themselves reflected, through a photograph, in an image that is unfamiliar to them:
humanized and with both emotional and generational characteristics, they wear the typical clothes children have worn since the 1880s, underlining the characteristics which, in real life, question the uniqueness of Homo sapiens. For example, young rabbit couples begin their lives together in a humble warren, but as they move up the social scale, they successively move into better quarters. They are essentially monogamous, engaging in an occasional affair when an attractive specimen turns up. And couples allow their offspring to continue living with them after adolescence provided they continue to be docile and accept their subordinate status.
On a previous occasion, Kenia had already presented series of photographs in which small, feminine objects or large close-ups of a female body outlined a visual vocabulary of rites of passage, in which the spectator literally peered through the oculus of the vignetting into a budding eroticism, due to her age yet which revealed the direction her work was taking at the time.
At the most basic level, the interpretation is probably located in the cliché of Alice in Wonderland iconography. But in the echoes and connections her work may elicit with other texts and other imaginaries, we witness a discursive coordination that goes beyond whims. It sets in motion a particular system of images that is both evocative and conscious of its moment in creation.