Zac Langdon-Pole

Zac Langdon-Pole

Chimera, 2024, bronze Camarasaurus skull, spider crane.

Courtesy Michael Lett, Sydney.

With support from Richard Douglas and Kriselle Baker.

During the late-nineteenth century, in a period known as the ‘Bone Wars’, US palaeontologists rushed to discover new dinosaur species. In 1877, Othniel Charles Marsh discovered a massive, almost complete skeleton of a species he went on to name the Brontosaurus, meaning ‘noble thunder lizard’. It was assembled at the American Museum of Natural History, becoming famous as the first full dinosaur skeleton to be placed on public display. But it wasn’t a full specimen, but a hybrid of two long-necked dinosaurs: its body was from an Apatosaurus, its head from a Camarasaurus. Nevertheless, today, ‘the Brontosaurus’ remains a fixture in the popular imagination. Intrigued by this story of miscategorisation and the disordering of scientific knowledge, Zac Langdon-Pole mounts a bronze-cast Camarasaurus skull on a spider crane to create a new hybrid monument. His title comes from Greek mythology, where Chimera was an imaginary monster composed of incongruous animal parts. He says: ‘The Brontosaurus was one of the first avatars of the modern age. Like ourselves, it has one foot in fact and one in fiction. Chimera is an ode to two related yet divergent stories: the deep time of the Earth and the “progress” of human civilisation, where cranes fuelled by fossils dominate our skylines, building upwards.’ 

Zac Langdon-Pole (b.1988) lives in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. In 2010, he gained his BFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, and, in 2015, his Meisterschüler from Städelschule, Frankfurt. Incorporating found and fabricated artefacts, his work spans scales of time and space, to explore memory, translation, and the ordering of cultural and natural worlds. In 2017, he won the Ars Viva Prize, and, in 2018, was the seventh recipient of the BMW Art Journey. He has exhibited widely internationally and in Australasia. In 2020, City Gallery Wellington presented his solo show, Containing Multitudes. In 2022, he was a McCahon House Artist in Residence at Parehuia, Titirangi.