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Axel Garay (B.1989, Meriam)

Nehushtan, 2023

Digital video projection and live public performance installation


The title ‘Nehushtan’ is a biblical reference to a bronze pole erected by Moses to heal the snake wounds of the Israelites as they exited the desert. While the serpent is responsible for the bite, its image is integral to the healing of the wound. The symbol of the serpent is strongly associated with Medicine and more practically in modern medicine,snake venoms are used in medicines to treat the sick. Serpentine symbolism has complex and often contradictory meanings in cultures around the world. In the video projection, two patients grapple with spiritual suffering while they are physically in pain. They are visited by a serpentine entity who leads them to spiritual transcendence even in the face of severe pain. This work was designed to be displayed at the entrance to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and is part of a larger exploration by the artist about the role of art in contemporary medicine and holistic healing.


Lead Artist: Axel Garay

Cinematographer: Cat Hoang

Performers: Aera Bradley, Jackie Sheppard

Special thanks to Jeremy Glover


This work was funded through the City of Melbourne’s Test Site Program which provides opportunities for artists to explore and experiment with temporary creative ideas in the public realm for those new to exploring the public realm and spatial practice.

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