Second Kiss


Second Kiss was inspired by an experience I had in South Africa. I was out cage diving with great white sharks off the coast of Mossel Bai, east of Cape Town. I have always been an admirer of Great whites, and it was a lifelong dream to see them in their own habitat. I learned quite a bit about great whites on that trip, and used some of that knowledge in the piece.
Young great whites (of which this is one) are called “brownies” in South Africa, because they often have a mottled brown color on their backs, like a young faun. They are notoriously skittish and shy, unlike their older relatives. One of the other things I learned about was the body language of great whites. For instance, prior to an attack, a shark will drop its pectoral fins to an almost vertical position, arch its back, and swim in a jerky, excited manner. The young shark in Second Kiss is doing the opposite of these things. It is actually in a very submissive posture, compared to the baby boy.
There is another little trick of posture in the piece. Sharks have special sensory organs, called the Ampullae of Lorenzini, clustered densely in their noses. These little organs can sense electrical fields, and are used in hunting, and possibly navigating. Many sharks are vulnerable to a sort of hypnosis effect, when they are pressed firmly on the nose, which the baby is performing perfectly.
Of course the idea of a human baby in close proximity to a great white is both offensive and disgusting. The piece is not about a real moment that could occur, but is rather a sort of a meditation on the nature of fear and the way we perceived danger and adversity. As with much of my work, it is also a self portrait of sorts.  (people tel me the baby looks like me… scary.



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