Sphexish is a word describing the mindless, routine behaviour displayed by insects. It’s derived from the sphex wasp, but it can be witnessed in spiders as they spin a web, in termites as they build their cathedrals, in ants as they tunnel, in bees as they sculpt cells into nooks of trees. It describes an evolutionary architectural project, staggered across billions of tiny bodies. Humans, with their thousands of years of potting, firing, sculpting, building, are eclipsed by these displays of instinct, impulse, intuition.
According to a recent analysis, more than 40% of insect species are in decline and a third are endangered. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The best available data shows that the total mass of insects is falling by 2.5% annually, suggesting that they could disappear within a century. These creatures are crucial to our ecosystem. Their presence signals the health of the soil. They pollinate, fertilise, and build. They destroy our shit to make something grow. They've resisted the brutality of nature for millions of years, utilizing the same primary materials that we have.
I went to one semester of art school in 2017. I asked my tutor, Vittoria Di Stefano, why she bothers to make art, considering the sun WILL engulf the earth. The sun is our beloved girthy radioactive galactic fuckboy, but he will come for us. I was curious about her sense of purpose in art-making. She described a drive, an impulse, an intuition, something unique to each individual yet universally felt; something ancient, collective, chic.
These works are sacred death objects. Like urns, tombs, grave markers. They are made routinely, mindlessly, rapturously, with absolute intention, like the spinning of a web. When I make these works I am a wooly lamb smoking a ciggie in sunnies moments before the knife slits my supple retinoid throat. I am a tucked and filled insta princess with glowing nail extensions, my hand clutched loosely around a set of nuke keys. It’s all so fucking final. It’s a choice, and it’s not.
Sullivan+Strumpf acknowledge the Indigenous People of this land, the traditional custodians on whose Country we work, live and learn. We pay respect to Elders, past and present, and recognise their continued connection to culture, land, waters and community.