The Absence of Metamorphosis
Performative research series: “Presence in Absence” piece
Video work (still in progress)
Live foot and voice performance
(Poem ‘The Axolotl and the Ammocoete’ by Walter Garstang
from Larval Forms, and other Zoological verses, 1966)
Installation with (homemade) bio materials
This “Presence in Absence” piece questions whether or not the absence of metamorphosis can affect the idea of progression, and if it can help in finding other (forward) movements. Neoteny as a kind of survival strategy.
This performative research is based on the axolotl – originally a “Black” amphibian from Lake Xochimilco in Mexico-City.
This first piece is the starting point of a new series. The relation to metamorphosis appears to be that the axolotl rejected to take part in the concept of metamorphosis by retaining juvenile, larval traits through its ability to fully regenerate body parts. Thus, the axolotl persisted in its aquatic existence, without metamorphosing to come out on land in the form of a salamander.
This insight offers a different take on the idea of progression. As if time stands still; healing and embracing a state of ‘letting go’. Terrifying in its simplicity, and most welcome in a society that is heading for regression.
Could these “alien” amphibians provide some form of progress without metamorphosis?
For the first visual translation, the artist focuses on the perceptible act of (the axolotl’s) “Presence in Absence” by examining ‘The Absent Body’.
The foot limb in the live performance is the artists’ conceptual representation of the axolotl’s gills, which are juvenile traits and one of the remarkable features of salamander larvae, due to their neoteny evolution.
© Lisette Ros
• Axolotl (A-sho-lotl): in the particular case of the axolotl, its symbolic significance revolves around an axis of alterity, as evidenced by the Nahuatl (Aztec) spelling of its name – in which the ‘x’ in axolotl, like in Malcolm X, stands as a signifier of the unknown.
• Main literature: Roger Bartra, ‘La Jaula de la Melancolía’, 1987; Walter Gastang, ‘The Axolotl and the Ammocoete’ from “Larval Forms, and other Zoological verses”, 1966; Julio Cortázar, ‘Axólotl’, 2015; Aztec Mythology of Xolotl, ‘Axolotiada’ with introduction by Roger Bartra and contributions by a.o. Octavio Paz, Juan José Arreola and Alberto Ruy Sanchez.
© Photos installation views by Ruben Garay Araujo
© Video works and footage by Lisette Ros
© Video: camerawork during exhibition at Casa Lü by Laura Martinova
© Lisette Ros