The Snake Charmer

Aotearoa New Zealand — 2012

With deep reflections and silk-smooth curves, an evocative ink-black stone figure stands beneath twisting serpentine branches, changing like a chameleon with shifts in light and points of view. The sculpture tableau reconceptualises Henri Rousseau's 1907 painting The Snake Charmer – transforming Eve from an exotic chanteuse into a modern text icon, and Eden from idealised jungle to a real Pacific idyll. The abstract I-figure stands in place of Rousseau's flute; a modern mouthpiece articulating sound through form. Dark and mysterious at a distance, and alluring up-close, The Snake Charmer watches over land and sea in an acclaimed snake-free paradise at risk from land serpents slipping through borders and sea snakes migrating across the Pacific, brought by changes in sea temperatures and ocean currents. Like a siren or guardian, the totemic figure alerts us of things we might sense but cannot yet see.