Artwork details

California Drought
Ink on paper
45,2 x 38,1 cm
Stanya Kahn

Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.


California Drought, 2016
Stanya Kahn’s drawings, paintings and animations of snakes place a spotlight on California’s climate, which is affected by drought, pollution, forest fires and extreme heat. The snake biting its own tail is an ancient symbol called Ourobouros, in which the snake symbolises the cycle of life. Kahn refers to the zoological explanation of why a snake tries to consume its own tail, which is panic and disorientation during a period of extreme heat. The artist regards the snake motif as a symbol of the current day’s climatic and political challenges, which manifest themselves in the extreme drought occurring in Los Angeles as well as in other ways. The drawings form the basis of the oil paintings in which the snake, the sun and the squares are transformed into abstract colour fields. The animation Heatstroke once again features the motif of two snakes biting their own tails, which in the end disintegrates under the intensity of the sun. The work can be interpreted as a warning of the potentially apocalyptic fate of Los Angeles, where drought and pollution are in the process of razing California’s idyllic status as the “Golden State”.


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