A Transparent Leaf Instead of the Mouth, 2016-2017
The work arises from Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s interest in the relationship between dissolution and belonging. As with Phasmides (2012), he uses the figure of the phasmid as a metaphor to push the boundaries between a subject and its environment, pointing to the interdependency that characterizes this relationship.
A Transparent Leaf Instead of the Mouth is an undulating glass pavilion similar to the terrariums used in natural history museums. The installation hosts plants and animals that can be observed by visitors. Inside the structure, the artist has recreated an ecosystem of shrubs and local plants together with exotic creatures that include stick insects, leaf insects and praying mantises, all of which have a mimetic capability to blend in with their environment. As a means of vision, A Transparent Leaf… activates simultaneous actions: on one hand, the insects become immobile to conceal themselves, and on the other, visitors move around the terrarium so as to be able to distinguish the insects from the vegetation. As occurs in a real forest, the installation generates a feeling of marvel and astonishment when the insects are discovered. The work is in fact a real ecosystem in which each element is closely dependent on the others; moreover, during the exhibition, it alters in accordance with its own rules, in a continual transformation that precludes it from being open to unambiguous interpretation. This constant metamorphosis is emphasized by the artist, who describes A Transparent Leaf Instead of a Mouth as «a linguistic landscape writing itself» and «a biological and semiotic experiment.» The inclusion of living creatures inside a work prompts a broader reflection on the status of an art object conceived to be in constant evolution, whose significance alters in harmony with the temporality of the space in which it is presented, as well as on the role of natural entities in an artistic context that can generate new idioms and an assortment of interpretations of our surrounding reality.