Back in March, I wrote about a supposed sea monster that washed up on the Georgia coast. It was found by a fisherman and his son, and bore a striking resemblance to the Altamaha-ha monster of local legend. Every time one of these “sea monsters” pops up, the best bet is that it’s a hoax. After all, when the story goes that some fisherman takes a picture of exactly the same monster that the town has on its welcome signs, goes to the local bar, and is utterly shocked to learn that there’s legends of this here monster that stretch back hundreds of years, it’s too clean to be true and this fellow has to be taking us for a ride. Well, it’s worse than that. The fisherman was just as duped as everyone else. The real culprit is an artist named Zardulu who, adding insult to injury to the people of Georgia, is an artist and “myth maker” based in New York City, where the “piece” will be on display as part of her solo art exhibition called, in proper spooky Yankee artist style, Triconis Aeternis: Rites and Mysteries.
This is a scenario that’s also almost too clean to be true: an NYC artist with a silly/spooky name and invented title pulls one over on the people of Not-New-York. It’s a story as old as the hills. The artist, Zardulu, told Vice that the “monster” was a taxidermied shark dressed up with papier-mâché to resemble a sea monster of legend. The piece, or hoax, or, prank, or all three is titled, not Altamaha-ha, but “Ketos Troias,” and is based on a monster from ancient Greek myth. According to Zardulu:
Darien is the home of a great American legend of the Altamaha-ha, I wanted to breathe some new life into and incorporate it into my larger narrative. The slaying of the Ketos Troias is symbolic of a triumph over the frightening creatures in both the ocean of my unconscious, of yours, of all of ours. That’s why it was such a compelling story.”
I am the ram-bearer, Kriophorus, master of contagious powers pic.twitter.com/hmveGNZFke
— Zardulu (@zardulu) August 17, 2018
This isn’t Zardulu’s first rodeo either. During a Miami art festival, there was a widely circulated video of a man finding an Iguana coming out of a toilet. It’s literally just that, a man finds an Iguana in the toilet, the whole family starts yelling, the Iguana almost drowns and then sits proudly on the seat. This was another of Zardulu’s works. It was titled (wait for it) “The Usurpation of Ouranos,” and was based on another Greek myth where a god, Ouranos, imprisons his children in the underworld until his son escapes, castrates him, and usurps his throne. Symbolized by almost drowning an Iguana in a toilet.
Here’s Zardulu talking about her work at large:
“These pieces are all crucibles, ritual adventures, I am living out in the real world, in the broadened conceptual space created by the internet and viral media. Deep down… we don’t care about the truth. We want myth. We want our feelings and emotions to be represented in symbolic forms. That’s why we gravitate to these viral stories, videos and images,”
For the record, I’m down with stunts like this. It makes life more interesting. Good job. At the same time, it’s hard to think of anything more annoying. And stop drowning Iguanas.