Ajar is a reminder of the actions of the Rapi Nui, that resulted in the destruction of the ecosystems of Easter Island. In their pursuit of greater material wealth they deforested the island, destroying the paradise in which they lived. This is a stark warning of the dangers of not respecting the environment and of the need for the world to develop its economies in harmony with it. The statues, “the Moai” stand as an enduring testament to the fall of the Rapi Nui and the choices to be made by humankind.
As the blooded sun draws blue to black,
an unearthly screech of bedding gulls
reverberates in echoes from cliffs of ferrous rock,
then fades and bows below the crashing surf.
Behind that constant chorus
a reverential silence in the dusky gloom,
where still the Moai stand in monolith.
Presumed to be the guardians of a now forsaken race.
They stand among the fallen.
They stand as happenings now done.
Eerie looming giants, ghosts among the mist;
enigmatic heirlooms of societies now gone.
Watching still, those heads of chiselled stone,
a warning throbs within their mineral veins.
A prescient intelligence relevant to now.
They stand; not as mere curiosities,
Nor unique totems wholly of this place,
but as denizens of this our wider Earth.
They scream a message through time itself,
“Beware the darkness of the Rapi Nui’s fall.
We stand as portent of ignorance repeated.
Seize the knowledge etched in our decline.
It is the hope from Anesidora’s jar.”
The poetry tells the story of the Rapi Nui who were the inhabitants of Easter Island. When they arrived on the island it was a lush paradise covered in forest and rich with food. The Rapi Nui carved a large number of stone heads as symbols of their god’s beneficence and protection. Through the centuries the Rapi Nui harvested their paradise cutting down trees and deforesting the island. This resulted in the paradise becoming largely a waste land, bringing famine and starvation to the people. The loss of trees to build houses, make canoes and tools totally devastated their economy. The poetry considers how this is a microcosm of the modern world, and should be seen as a warning, that if we carry on indiscriminately abusing our environment and eco systems, the whole of mankind could suffer a similar fate to the Rapi Nui. That warning, if heard, is the hope for mankind. The poem refers to the hope in Anesidora’s jar. ‘Anesidora’s jar’ is an alternative name for ‘Pandora’s Box’ in Greek mythology.
The installation is placed on a base cut out in the shape of Easter Island and takes the form of a number of heads facing a central chief head, its rank being denoted by the quality of its head dress. The island base is desert like with no vegetation. One of the heads is laid down on the ground showing that the gods have forsaken the people; the Rapi Nui historically laid down some of the heads because they felt deserted. The central figure’s headdress has three faces so it looks in all directions across the island, the head dress has a chess board with pieces suggesting checkmate, this is the warning to the rest of the world. All this is in contrast to the photograph on the wall reflecting the paradise that was Easter Island; a verdant paradise that supported the first inhabitants.
Compassion – for the world we live in, preserving the natural balance and the environment is a necessary underscore to supporting and increasing the happiness of the people around us.