Commission: Situation Anophthalamus Hitleri, Jasmina Cibic 2012
I was invited by Jasmina Cibic, a London based artist, to be a part of her project for the European Capital of Culture in Maribor, Slovenia. The project is based on the story of the discovery of an endemic beetle, which is in danger of becoming extinct, living in the northern part of Slovenia.
The background story Cibic provided: “In 1933 Vladimir Kodrič happened upon a beetle in one of Slovenia’s caves around Celje, which he thought might represent a new species. In 1937 the entomologist Oscar Scheibel confirmed this. As a Hitler sympathiser, Scheibel named the insect Anophthalmus hitleri. A name of an organism can only be changed in extreme circumstances that have to do with the development of knowledge. Politically sensitive names cannot be amended, therefore all attempts to rename the beetle have been unsuccessful. Because of the politically embarrassing name this beetle has been throughout its known existence held semi-secretive and even when it was featured on a Yugoslavian stamp in 1984, its Latin name was withheld. More recently, neo-Nazis in Slovenia have destroyed a part of its habitat, whilst collecting the specimens, after an article about its existence was published by the National Geographic in 2006.”
The process: I was given instructions to create a black and white illustration of Anophthalmus hitleri on A4 sized paper with a white background viewed from above. I agreed to not look at any pictures of the beetle or learn anything additional about the beetle itself.
“Jasmina Cibic’s projects are conceived as a type of gesamtkunstwerk, including different variations of delegated performance and delegated object making, often combining work by architects, scientists and other professionals as well as factories and craftsmen chosen for their historical and contextual meanings. In the Situation Anophthalmus hitleri project, Cibic investigates two key elements within the construction and perpetuation of national icons and myths: namely their invention and their architectonic dispositive that channels the perception of a spectator. Cibic has worked with over 40 internationally established entomologists and scientific illustrators who produced these beetle illustrations, basing their work solely on their experience in the field of entomology and their interpretation of the beetle’s Latin name, without referring to the actual specimen itself.”
My illustration interpreting Anophthalmus hitleri commissioned by Cibic is shown here.