Black Swans

Black Swans

Gagosian Gallery, New York
Project Year
Axis Mundi | John Beckmann

Black Swans

Axis Mundi as Artists

“First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme 'impact.' Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable."
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan

Black Swans

The phrase "black swan" derives from a Latin expression; its oldest known occurrence is from the 2nd-century Roman poet Juvenal's characterization in his Satire VI of something being "rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno" ("a rare bird in the lands and very much like a black swan"). When the phrase was coined, the black swan was presumed not to exist. The importance of the metaphor lies in its analogy to the fragility of any system of thought. A set of conclusions is potentially undone once any of its fundamental postulates is disproved. In this case, the observation of a single black swan would be the undoing of the logic of any system of thought, as well as any reasoning that followed from that underlying logic.

For this installation two giant black swans float in a pool of black oil framed by a ring of polished stainless steel.

Sculpture: John Beckmann
Visualizations: Kirill Lynkovsky
Conceived for the Gagosian Gallery, New York

© 2020 Axis Mundi Design LLC. 

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