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Brit Bunkley

Wanganui, NEW ZEALAND
brit@ihug.co.nz
Lost


Artist Statement: I have long been fascinated by the etymology of "Santa Claus," a mythical figure with roots in ancient European and Middle Eastern folklore. The current Santa Claus caricature was based on St. Nicholas of Lycia, a 4th-century bishop of Asia Minor known for giving gifts to the poor (according to legend, by dropping gold down their chimneys). During the Middle Ages in Europe, St. Nicholas evolved into "Sankt Nikolaus” in Germany, and “Sanct Herr Nicholaas” or “Sinterklaas” in Holland. In these countries, Nicholas was sometimes said to ride through the sky on a horse delivering gifts. He wore a bishop's robes, and was at times accompanied by Black Peter, an elf whose job was to whip naughty children."1 By the 18th century, this character was replaced by the more modernized "Dutch figure, SinterKlaas, which settlers brought with them to Nieuw Amsterdam (now New York) and who inspired the American transformation of the figure and even gave him his name." It was in this future commercial and military capital of the world where our modern notion of a jolly fat Santa Claus emerged in the 19th century. The original "Santa Claus," St. Nicholas, a resident of what is now Turkey, likely appeared far more Middle Eastern in appearance than our current American caricature of a jolly, ruddy fat man in red invented by artist Thomas Nast of Harper's Magazine in 1868. One should remember that this saint's life story symbolized love, caring, and generosity.

The soundtrack music is by the Canadian group Set Fire to Flames (an adjunct band to the Canadian group Godspeed! You Black Emperor). The software used to create this 59-second video was made with Autodesk VIZ 4 and Adobe Premiere utilizing a RPC (Real People Content) moving-image plug-in of Santa Claus by Archvison.)

1. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2003.