Darwin’s Dream
acrylic & objects (plastic, metal) on canvas / behind glass
220 AC transformer included
52 cm X 52 cm
February 2003

Whatever the significance of Darwin and the concept of evolution, everyone has to struggle to survive. Violence often plays a part. It is the leading man in Darwin’s Dream which can be read like a rebus, an “image riddle”. As can many of Von Kleist’s works.

Symbols of a visceral past — the gaping jaws of a dinosaur, a gun, the rusty links of a chain that vaguely suggest torture and captivity — are symmetrically arranged.

An underlying geometric pattern only emerges on closer inspection. There are two triangles, pointing in opposite directions (based on information in the Kabbala, and on dreams). The maw of the dinosaur and the numinous number, 7, made of driftwood, delineate the base of the lower triangle.

The broken lamp at the centre of the top one can be switched on, but it’s not that bright. Von Kleist: “It is a sham god, an artificial light that inevitably switches off after a while. The gun? It’s our gilded but polluted skyline. Below starts the underworld. The chain was hanging in a derelict barn for ages, swinging in the wind, useless and almost completely timeworn. To me it is a strong symbol. It implies that we can break through the cycle of aggression. But there is only one way, by killing the dragon — the dinosaur — lurking in the dark. In a sense Darwin’s Dream is a self-portrait.”

The objects may represent important concepts and ideas, but they’re also quite mundane. Toys, old rubbish. How so?

Von Kleist: “Symbols are often like that. In reality, they are next to nothing ... signposts, keyholes. Once they are charged with meaning, they become anything but powerless. Look at religion, or nationalism. And watch out.”









      Photo by Suzana Zalokar   BACK