Jeweller to the Guild of Body Assayers
- drug testers, body performance artists, DNA samplers, any practitioner
who gave the oath of Hippocrate and wear the heraldic olive branch
enveloped by two serpents, as a badge of honour (doctors, surgeon,
plastic surgeon, anaesthetists, etc.)
- Patron Saint
Caduceus assemblage of crab
claws, valves, syringe and red faux ruby, 2001 (photograph Kevin
Felix qui portuit rerum cognoscere causas
(Happy, the ones that can penetrate the secret causes of things)
This heraldic wand stands for the many people who
make their business the penetration of human bodies in order to
extract samples of substances such as blood, DNA, saliva, semen
and urine. Like the tradition of hallmarking, bio-assaying entails
the extraction of a trivial amount of material in order to determine
characteristics of the whole.
Among this group is a younger generation of artists
who are breaking the Judeo-Christian taboo on the integrity of the
body. These artists include Orlan, who uses her own body as a canvas
to create new work of art, and Herman Nitsch, using blood as painting-'the
colour red of blood, is the colour of life and death at the same
time.' And increasingly we are asked to have doctors to infiltrate
our body to take out some bits and pieces, for medical, forensic
or cosmetic purposes.
This Caduceus replaces the traditional symbol that
includes a branch of olive or laurel, fitted with wings and the
two entwined serpents. This archaic symbol was the attribute of
Hermes, the Greek god of magic power and messenger of the Gods.
I have employed an animal for the main symbol. The
crab claws represent the serpent, and the syringe stands for the
wooden wand. Both represent fear (always a strong power of emblematic
adornment is to instigate fear in the common mortals). The valve
represents security and control. The human heart is a kind of mechanic
valve controlling the flow of the blood in our body. The antique
glass seems to be encased a hidden mechanism, but unlike our human
body is transparent. Like a mace or a flag, the Caduceus is completely
useless as a function. Its role is purely representational.
Cavalan was born in Paris and graduated from B.J.O. School of Jewellery.
He arrived in Australia in 1974 where he established a successful
jewellery practice. He has had more than ten solo shows, most recently
at Brisbane City Gallery. He has received many awards, including
the National Contemporary Jewellery Award. Cavalan's work is also
on display at Amsterdam's Gallery RA's 25th anniversary show, Maskerade.
Pierre lives in Sydney.