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A break with nature's usual course is a recurring theme in the Bible and all kinds of stories about saints and tales of spiritual experience. The leopard would rest with the goat (Isaiah 11:6), the lions would not devour a man thrown into their lair (Daniel 6), and the fish would listen to a holy man's sermon (the Homeless Bound series has some of it too). Wolves, lions, boars or other dangerous animals were genuine threats to the premodern person's existence. One strategy for handling this was to imagine a hero who vanquishes the "beasts" (e.g., in the 12 Labors of Heracles). The alternative involved eliminating all predation, fears and phobias in one's imagination, imagine a world that has undergone transformation and is devoid of all problems. Some biblical stories do exactly that.

Why was the Christian devil modeled after a goat, an unthreatening herbivore who does not scare anyone? Some scholars believe that Pan, the ancient Greek deity of fields, groves, shepherds, flocks, rural music, and fertility, was the real inspiration behind this prevalent iconography. Apparently, Pan was promoted (or demoted, depending on your viewpoint) to the position of the devil thanks to his joyful personality, his capacity to mix human and non-human qualities, and his celebration of life in the company of the nymphs. A similar fate has befallen the apple, an innocent fruit that the Western culture somehow associated with sin, misery, and discord ("the apple of discord," the biblical "forbidden fruit," and so on).

Since ancient times, people have studied ants, bees, and other insects in an effort to learn how to create societies. Ants have featured in all kinds of myths and stories, they have figured as fantasy miniature armies, as models of good behavior, as infiltrating communists and as creatures on the borderline between the realms of the organic and the machine. 

St. Anthony of Padua, a Franciscan friar from the 13th century, is said to have spoken to fish. When Anthony arrived to Rimini, Italy, as part of his ministry, the city's unfriendly officials ordered that everyone in the city ignore him. After several failed attempts to pique people's interest, Anthony found himself by the side of a local river and began preaching to fish instead of people. As the legend goes, a large school of fish gathered around him and began poking their heads out of the water to listen. Because the majority of my recent works lack human protagonists, the elephant in this piece takes on the role of a preacher.

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