Paul March: Tekenu’s Intent, 2022
Tekenu’s Intent is a large ceramic installation made for the ongoing exhibition, Migration(s) at the Musée Ariana (Swiss Ceramics Museum), Geneva. Once again, the work weaves archaeological artifacts and contemporary experiences into an artwork with a definite presence but indeterminate signification. It imbues the space around it with a paradoxical atmosphere, simultaneously uncanny and reassuring. The word “Tekenu” is the name of a strange figure that appears on the tomb walls of ancient Egypt. The enwrapped figure takes several forms, sometimes semi-human, sometimes vessel shaped. It is often placed on a sledge. Its role in funerary rites is unknown. Like Project Holocene, the original intention of the project, Tekenu’s intent was not to explore the nature of an ancient artifact (indeed, the image of Tekenu was a late-comer to the ongoing project), but once Tekenu was involved, the project evolved around the intention to make contemporary sense of this puzzling form – which it finally did in terms of the metamorphic life-cycle of Lepidoptera – specifically the death’s head hawk moth.
Alongside the installation in the museum, I mounted a parallel exhibition in an art centre in Geneva, the aim of which was to introduce to the visitor – through artefacts, images, videos, and notebook entries – how non-coherent links can form between anachronistic elements that together forge new, quasi-coherent, contemporary, non-linguistic meanings. I tried to capture the exhibition in a 30-minute video, The Archaeology of Cognition. For those with less time, there is also a three-minute version.
Tekenu’s Intent, 2022, stoneware, installation approx. 2 x 2 x 1.8 m. © Paul March