The Monoceros anthology is a compilation of works dedicated to the unicorn. Assembled with the aim of challenging preconceptions and past associations equated to the unicorn.
38 individual creators came together to bring striking, moving and in places eerie pieces of work ranging from; mature encounters with these horned creatures, tales of magic, eroticism, and reimagined folklore.
The sweet smell peculiar to virgins- Samantha Bolf
A wonderfully in-depth look at the ideas and presence of unicorns in history especially in relation to the myths and in The Hunt of the Unicorn and The Lady of the Unicorn. Samantha makes a point of referencing the unicorns as metaphors for forced marriages and the death of the unicorn is the death of the virgin by penetration of the sword. Unicorns frequently appear in elegant and high brow literature and since as early as the second century, they were understood to represent chastity or purity. Which is a very interesting metaphor and idea that these wild creatures, if they are to represent virginal women, are killed alongside our freedom with the concept of marriage and what was more the case in those days, subservience.
The inclusion of this discussion on The Lady of the Unicorn within Monceros really reiterates the mission statement as set out by Editor in Cheif A. H. Pennington, we are challenging our preconceptions of the unicorns, and these tapestries encourage the viewer to asses the knowledge or type of understanding around the representation of Unicorns. To ask questions about our knowledge existing alongside traditions, culture, imagination and creative expression. For isn’t the idea of the unicorn the very cornerstone of many a child’s imagination?
Turnabout, in particular, caught my attention. I found something very striking in the positioning of the figures along with the bold contrasting white of the Unicorn figure. I particularly like the anthropomorphic elements of the figures at a first glance, it is two creatures locked in battle but, look a little closer and we can see the human figures beneath.
There are so many questions that swirl around my mind the more I look upon Turnabout, we do not know these two figures, we do not what they are fighting for, or who is the villain and who is the hero if there even is such a clear distinction. One thing we do know, is that the unicorn stands triumphant of this encounter, her foe under heel with her arrow drawn, but what now, will she kill this lion? Or will she let them go?
Is it because one of the warriors is a Unicorn, a symbol of purity and hope, that I expect them to release and to not kill the lion? But then, that’s again this is what Monoceros wants me to question, whether I am just thinking back to that fluffy plump unicorn of my childhood instead of this mythical creature who is capable of violence and more?
I found myself asking these questions throughout Monoceros, my preconceived concept of a unicorn, was being stripped away into something I had never considered it could be, a creature not pure and virtuous but maybe a creature born from darkness that appealed to the darker aspects of my adult psyche, where the fluffy plump pink unicorn once had appealed to my childhood self.
Forgotten Forest- Taylor Keith
The first words that came to mind when I first looked at Forgotten Forest were; horrifying, captivating and again- horrifying.
Forgotten Forest really manages to tap into something that I find incredibly unsettling, it is as though Taylor has reached into my subconscious and that vault where I locked my fears away and went A-HA! This will really scare Heather.
A combination of the colour palette and the positioning of the creature, like Turnabout, draws you in for a closer look and as your eyes adjust to the dark the creature’s elongated limbs come into focus as the edge closer and closer. Looking at Forgotten Forest is like trying to see what is making that sounds in the bushes, the longer you stay trying to decipher if you are safe, the greater possibility for danger, but yet you just can not tear your eyes away.
Forgotten Forest is a perfect image to represent the idea of our candy coloured fluffy unicorns being born from the darkness and creating a whole new creature. What if these creatures of purity had been born of wickedness or of sin?
A Study in Mortality- Son. M
A Study in Mortality is a harrowing and uncomfortable read and one hell of a way to end the anthology. As I sit here writing up my thoughts on the different pieces that make up this otherwordly collection, all I can think about is A Study in Mortality.
It is as tender as it is brutal, I feel naught but contempt for the narrator, I just feel an urge to reach into the pages and pluck their eyes out. Let’s see how much grace and compassion they would possess after we cut out their tongue.
What, A Study in Mortality, reinforced for me, was societies overwhelming compulsion to examine the ‘abnormal’. No matter whether it creature, place or plant, the compulsion to slice into the heart, to understand it, to consciously or subconsciously find out how to destroy it, lest it destroy us first.
A Study in Mortality is a stark reminder of why we can’t have nice things.
Monoceros is about as far removed from the warm and fuzzy tales about unicorns that we are used to as you can get. However, what the creators, A. H Pennington, and Associate Editors Son M and Sam. C have created is a collection of very honest works about life, misconceptions and why we should challenge how we think. Life is no fairytale and if unicorns were real, what is to say they would be the fairy tale unicorns? Unicorns may signify purity, virginity and ooze a protective aura, but why should they? Would a creature who is stronger and more deadly then man, submit to them?
I found Monoceros to be entirely different from what I had expected, the anthology itself changed my preconceptions, along with the works it contains. Monoceros is particularly well curated and well executed. The creatures involved has created engaging, thought-provoking and emotive work. Which is sure to leave you asking many questions and examining your own preconceptions.
Monoceros is available for preorder now and I would strongly urge you to do so before the preorders close, you can see more information and what you can get alongside the anthology at their store here.
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