The Capitibus (‘head’ in Latin) series starts with a polyester head, later replaced by a bronze head cast from the mould of a stuffed cow. The prototype of Holy Cow (2017). The polyester heads and the greenish bronze head are both numbered -both series- from 1 to 7 (indicated on the brass ear tags). The artist chose a more sober design for the unique black bronze head, cast in one piece. The animal heads originate from the same moulding technique Tom Herck applies to create realistic human busts.
Opposites attract! The artist therefore produced polyester as well as cast bronze Capitibus versions. The very first bronze castings date to the mid 3rd millennium BC, when a high level of sophistication was achieved in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Developed in a 20th-century laboratory, synthetic fiber -derived from coal, air, water, and petroleum- was the fabric of choice in a changing economy of speed, efficiency and convenience.
Combining traditional and contemporary elements and materials, the artist expands on their mystical properties by synthesizing new symbols with a very personal iconography. This enables him to tackle universal themes like life and death, vanity, transformation and religion. He creates perspectives that challenge “universal” views.
The barbed wire around the head of the cow symbolizes the Crown of Christ as well as the electrified barbed wire in the meadows. Capitibus is a satirical work, packed with hints like the brass nose piercing of the cow ornamented with a cross and the brass earring with a tag carrying the words 'TH 1984, Holy Cow Project 0001'.
Between the 1960s and 1980s, the punk scene embraced body modification in an effort to mock bourgeous society. However, many of these revolutionaries later helped usher body art into mainstream society. As evidenced from the mask of Tutankhamun found in an archaeological site in Egypt, ear piercing has long been around. Earrings are considered to have spiritual and cultural meanings in many societies.
Piercings have always been a showcase of social status and hierarchy. The Bible mentions ear pierced slaves on several occasions, e.g. in Exodus 21:6 “Then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.” As a contemporary means of `property` identification, the ear tag systematically marks the once so spiritual animal, with an Animal Identification Number (AIN) or code for the animal, or for its herd or flock.
Through his oeuvre, the artist shows the harsh reality of the current western society, where the cow -said to symbolize trust and positivity and considered sacred in many world religions-, suffers from a much less sacred, healthy and mutual relationship.
© Text by Lara van Oudenaarde.
© Photos by Erik Jamar.