Wed Sep 19, 2018 @ 6:00AM MST
Sun Sep 23, 2018 @ 11:55PM MST
Respect! A dung beetle is not only the world’s strongest insect, it’s also the strongest animal on the planet compared to its body weight. This massive insect made of recycled material is the creation of artist Max Streicher, originally from Alberta and now living in Toronto.
This artwork is made from vinyl recycled from billboards. Here are some other things you probably did not know about the Dung Beetle.
The strong front legs are good for fighting and digging
The spurs on their back legs help roll the dung balls
The long flight wings folded under hardened outer wings make them strong fliers that can travel several miles in search of the
perfect dung pat
They can live up to three years
They are found on every continent except Antarctica
Their nickname is the Tumblebug
It is scientifically confirmed that they prefer “exotic” poop
Made possible by Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
All day, everyday.
My works often come to me as instantaneous visions in response to a location. I was invited to do a show at a gallery that had several columns in the way of what was otherwise a giant space. I thought that perhaps the columns could be piercing a work. Not a great idea for an inflatable. The air would leak out. A bug on a pin, as in an insect collection, came to mind. And thus was born a beetle in two parts. Head and thorax on one side of the column and abdomen on the other. Both sealed and the two halves connected by a zipper. Then came associations of Kafka's Metamorphosis. Thus, the Beetle ended up on its back.
What I was aiming for was not a depiction of a beetle only, but a situation, a kind of tragedy of a beetle in trouble, and on an overwhelming scale. Having it upside down and in crisis is a reaction or critique of your usual inflatable as seen in advertising or at an amusement park. Where my works come near to spectacle, I will always choose to find a way to bring a sense of crisis or Beckett-like dark comedy to the situation.
2. What is so great about recycled vinyl? How did you acquire it?
Bilboard vinyl is not recycled. All those billboards end up in landfills, or, if you live near a shantytown, like in Mumbai, or Sao Paulo, you will see it up-cycled into a building material, improvised roofing unusually. That's how I read it. Cast offs of wasteful capitalism and consumerism. I like the accidental collage aspect too. I'm destroying a corporate, manipulative item and transforming it into something hopefully nicer. Additionally Dung Beetles are the best recyclers. Imagining hatching your children out a dung ball!
I obtain it from the advertising companies when on its way to the trash bin.
3. How long did it take to make the Dung Beetle? Do you work alone? Have there been holes you've had to fix?!
Took me three months to construct. I made it by myself, beginning to end. Designed the pattern, cut it and sewed it.
Works that are outdoors for any length of time will at times need to have a hole mended. Easily enough done. On the Dung Beetle I've only had to patch the legs where a hanging point has pulled out.
4. What was the most challenging part of bringing this together?
I guess developing my pattern making skills. I can't say that Dung Beetle was challenging in any extraordinary way beyond what I normally do.
5. Are there any facts, messages, or philosophy you'd like to share with the public regarding this project?
For me this project has evolved to be about the human involvement in environmental destruction. I'm very concerned about the reported absence of huge numbers of insects in Europe. I fear it's happening here too. Without insects to clean up corpses we're facing a stinky existence here on earth. Not to mention a very simplified diet without pollinators.
6. What other exciting projects are you working on right now?
I'm working on a public sculptural project for the City of Edmonton. And I'm working on a new project that will address my concerns for the environment.
7. If you were an insect, which would you be?
A female praying Mantis.
SAIT corner of 16 Ave NW and 10 St NW
1301 16 ave nw, Calgary