Zebrafish Oannes

The zebrafish is one of The Incredible Shrinking Man’s most beloved spirit animals. Being a model organism for endocrinological and genetic research positions it between fact and fiction, the known and the unknown and the present and the future. Thus it invites us into realms of reality yet undiscovered. As mirrors of the human body they became subjects of desire and a reflection of deep physical wants. Yet at the same time they are part of the great unknown, the riddle of life, the majesty of the wild.

Lately the zebrafish has become somewhat of an iconic figure in our shamanistic dance routine, the Abun’dance. The dance represents the desire to break free from our dominant paradigm of continuous growth while illustrating and enacting the alternative perspective of shrinking. The fish on our feet perhaps symbolise the above mentioned desire as well as the notion of temperance, sometimes represented in western iconography by fish drawn or painted on feet. During some performances the dancer wears a lab coat painted (rather amateurishly) with fish scales. The ritual calls into memory the mythological figure of Oannes, the Babylonian fish/man hybrid that taught man the use of letters, sciences, agriculture, law, architecture and the arts.

Zebrafish Oannes disrupts comfortable understandings of how to attain the wisdom to reach abundance and prosperity for all forms of life: It is a call upon science to not just cater to the need for more but to also address and help forth  the desire for less.