Lex Humana is an art installation about the relationship between Man and Nature. More specifically, the way in which Man tries to control Nature and how Man places himself above the ‘Law of Nature’.
The latter is mainly processed in the image itself. That shows an alligator executed in a human way, by hanging. Two important details are the tied arms and the gallows themselves, to enhance the human character of the execution. In other words, this animal was punished and executed in a human way for committing a ‘crime’. A question that can be asked here is, of course, whether an animal can be punished in the first place. In addition, there is also the absurdity and arrogance of the fact that Man wants to impose his laws on a species that hasn’t changed for 37 million years.
Secondly, this work is about Man’s attempts to control Nature. Something that has been done in so many different ways (cattle breeding, genetic manipulations of crops, population control, nature reserves, breeding programs, etc) that you can ask yourself how much of Nature is still ‘natural’. The observation, however, is that we have reached a point in which we would only worsen the situation for many people, animals and plants if we choose to let nature take its course again. With, for example, millions of starvation deaths through failed harvests and the disappearance of virtually all endangered species, as a consequence. What is the right choice here? Do we take control and ensure survival or let nature take its course? One thing is for sure: Nature will eventually always prevail.
The story of the alligator perfectly complements this paradox. The animal originates from the Everglades in Florida where he was killed legally during the past hunting season. During this period, a predetermined number of animals are killed to keep the ecological balance in the Everglades. If this does not happen, then overpopulation develops and the ecosystem in the Everglades (that Man himself has taken control of) falls into conflict and the alligators will again be threatened with extinction. The ‘Alligator Conservation Program’ is seen worldwide as an example of conservation and is the reason why there are 1.3 million living American alligators today.
Finally: NO alligator was killed so I could make this artwork. I legally (CITES) bought the skin of an already dead animal and let it be mounted by a taxidermist in Belgium. I chose this set up and image because in my opinion it’s the best and most powerful way to visualize this situation.