There is a Māori tale that speaks of a giant eagle called Hokioi. In 1872, Sir Julius von Haast, with the help of F. R. Fuller found in the South Island fossils of a femur, a rib and two clutches of an unknown giant bird of prey. Sir George Grey, Governor of New Zealand at the time, pointed to the possible connection between this discovery and Māori tales about the Hokioi. That finding turned a “myth” into a “scientific fact”.
Recently it has been discovered that the Haast's eagle became extinct shortly after the arrival of the Polynesians and that it evolved over hundreds of thousands of years from the Little Eagle of Australia (Hieraaetus morphnoides), becoming fifteen times larger than its original size.
Referencing the usual tradition in natural science museums of making replicas of species in their collections, I reproduced the evolutionary process of the Haast’s eagle in reverse, using the bird remains found in 1872. Playing with the fact that clay reduces its size by 15% when fired, I created replicas of the bones in the original size of the Haast’s eagle, which were cast and fired several times until they became the size of the Hieraaetus eagle.
This work was part of a double exhibition in New Zealand, at Artspace (Auckland) and Enjoy (Wellington).
64 plaster and silicon molds. Variable dimensions.
Pigmented plaster relief. 32 x 25 cm
Produced by Artspace, Auckland and Enjoy, Wellington.
With the assistance of Oscar Garduño, Jimena Mendoza, Ulises Figueroa and Manuel Gonzalez.
Table design: Xabier Salaberria