On a three-by-four meter base, the artist Jana Euler has placed 111 small white sharks in glazed ceramic: the ferocious heads of these animals seem to emerge from the sea water ready to tear their prey to pieces with their sharp teeth and bloody eyes. Great White Fear (2021) is part of the installation conceived by the German artist for The milk of dreams during the Venice Biennale 2022. With this work the artist carries out research on the transfiguration of the animal figure which, while maintaining realistic characteristics, is emphasized in its forms to underline its most grotesque and monstrous aspect.

By observing carefully each shark, you can see how the physical connotations are manipulated by the artist: through a modeling of the ceramic with sketchy gestures that restore a certain crudeness of detail, the subjects are like caricatured characters in a cartoon and almost lose the aggressiveness they denotes them. The small sculptures, together with the choice of title, almost seem to mimic the stereotype according to which the shark, a monstrous and brutal animal, is the subject of our fears. The white shark becomes a miniature and parody of itself: Jana Euler distorts common thinking to restore a new sensitivity and vision of nature, thus approaching the interpretation that man makes of nature through the creation of symbols and associations.

The radical sculptural gestures applied to the figure of the animal become satirical until reaching a spontaneous association: the shark heads wink, without really hide it, at phallic forms. Passing from a representational dimension to a more latent symbolism, Euler enters the generation dynamics of metaphorical layers inside the human psyche. Great White Fear in its subtle irony is able to bring to the surface much more complex dynamics that are rooted in the unconscious of man and which remain, like lurking sharks, hidden in the dark abysses.


Jana Euler,
Great white Fear, 2021
111 glazed ceramics on plinth
Overall: 67 x 400 x 310 cm
All words with the additional support of IFA – Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen
59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams
© Photo by Marco Cappelletti, courtesy La Biennale di Venezia