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SCULPTURE FINALIST 2016/NKHENSANI RIHLAMPFU

My intention is to shed light on power-hungry individuals who think there is no end to earthly riches.

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THE VANITY OF HUMAN WISDOM

I am emphasising the finality and fragility of self-proclaimed wisdom. We, as the human race, go from being vainglorious, to merely desperate, and then inevitably fade into nothingness. In essence we are all complacent and dwell in a futile world where we are all expendable.

In this process of human existence, I’m portraying the hierarchy of life: how one can go from being excessively and inordinately proud to a forgotten entity – for instance, the dissolution of a political figure, party, organisation, etc. Concrete is strong, firm and has a long life span.

The qualities of concrete can be likened to a proud human’s character, which is invincible and unperishable. My artwork consists of a series of heads going through a process of dissolution, with the first head standing firm and looking up with pride. The second head appears to be melting, and is slightly tilted and losing its balance.

The last head looks completely melted, which suggests a loss of identity and existence. It is a subject that is current, affects us all and relates to everyone. My inspiration stems from the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet Ozymandias. It is a grand narrative that resonates with the current state of affairs.

My intention is to shed light on power-hungry individuals who think there is no end to earthly riches. The concrete represents the strong characteristics within us and the sculpture’s gradual melting portrays our fragility, thus emphasising the impermanence of earthly power.

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