posted by Molly
Caterpillar Suit I, 2007
Caterpillar Suit II, 2008
Anodized Aluminum, brass, razor wire
Walter Oltmann, South African, Natal Province, born 1960
Promised gift of the Vascovitz Family, 2008.114.1 and 2008.114.2
A caterpillar and a conquistador have mixed their exoskeletons together. Both are voracious: caterpillars eat copious amounts of leaves, just as conquistadors often ravage people in their path. But both are vulnerable—scientists issue warnings that the insect population is showing signs of decline, and the role of the conquistador alone in strange new worlds was always a tenuous one.
Subtle hints about the origin of the artist are perceptible: one of the few places that have taken inexpensive metal wire and made it into art is the Natal Province of South America, where Walter Oltmann was raised and learned firsthand how Zulu women weave wire baskets. The spikes of razor wire are a reminder of the strife-conflicted cityscapes in South Africa. Oltmann is currently a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwaterstrand in Johannesburg.