Ram with Human is Oliver Laric’s latest sculpture and derives from a 3D scan of a Roman marble “original” from the 2nd century CE. With the artist unknown, the sculpture is presently part of the Doria Pamphili Gallery collection, in Rome. It depicts a scene from Homer’s Odyssey, where Odysseus escapes the Cyclops. On finding a large carve, Odysseus and his men entered the cave, helped themselves to food and drink, and fell asleep. Polyphemus, the Cyclops in whose cave Odysseus and his man found shelter, was enraged by their intervention, killing some of the men. To escape, Odysseus and the remaining man constructed an elaborate plan. They blinded the Cyclops and escaped through the cave’s mouth, tied to giant sheep from the Cyclops’ flock. The sculpture depicts Odysseus holding on to a giant ram as he escapes the cave.
Laric’s approach to selecting his subjects, that being existing works of art, can in many ways be seen as discursive and not directly connected to the narrative or art-historical standing of a chosen work. In Ram with Human, this becomes visible through the absence of Odysseus’s acknowledgment in the title of the piece. Instead, the work can be seen as a continuation of Laric’s interest in the relation between human and non-human animals. Here, Laric questions the rigid hierarchies imposed upon an understanding of nature as the Other and subject to domination and power imposition, rather than as a complex web of interdependencies. Ram with Human can be understood as an example, where traditional hierarchies between animal and human have been blurred. The sculpture emphasizes the profound connection between humans and animals, their mutual affinity, and their dependence on each other.