Kexin Zhang
rat bones, marten bones, film from silkworm cocoons, bone ash

<Elegy> is an artistic project in which animal bones were used as an expression of mourning and respect.

<Elegy> aims to question the distorted values of life within anthropocentrism, more specifically the human exploitation of animals. Humans attach different values to animals, based on all kinds of subjective reasons. Pets are precious and cute, while rats on the street are disgusting and worthless. People take useful parts of animals and throw away the useless parts. Kexin Zhang collected remains of animals and transformed them to express mourning and respect.

The jury on <Elegy>:

For these artefacts, animal bones have been pieced together in a spurious but fascinating way to make a decorative object. The objects give deceased animals a new raison d'être, through the mystery of the material as well. <Elegy> confronts us with our own mortality. 
<Elegy> - Kexin Zhang © Nuo Chen

How did the idea for this project come about?

We live in an efficient and industrial era. People’s thinking is very profit-oriented. I've noticed that humans assign different values to animals, based on different subjective reasons. Pets, for example, are precious and cute, while rats on the street are disgusting and worthless. In many industries, people also measure the value of animal life by whether they can benefit from it. People use useful parts of animals and throw away the useless parts, a phenomenon that leaves me feeling sad and powerless. So I collected animal remains to create a visual contrast with them. I transformed those objects that people see as useless or repellent into a sense of preciousness and sadness to express my mourning and respect.

What makes your project so special?

What makes my project special is the choice of materials and the way they are used. I chose materials that relate to animals and are normally considered worthless. I experimented with them and manipulated them to give them a contrasting appearance. I wanted them to look delicate and fragile and at the same time beautiful and sad. I made the objects out of the ribs and tail bones of rats. I also made petals from the membrane of silkworm cocoons and ground the remaining bones into powder to make cream-coloured flowers.

Do you have any further plans for this project?

I want to continue to look for animal-related remains and explore new possibilities. I want to find a special value and application for each material. That way, I can explore the theme in more depth.