A1 | 76.41 x 56.55 cm | Water soluble crayon, acrylic, felt-pens, ink & ball-pen on heavy weight paper | 2014
‘The Queen’ is the organic side of reproduction. See it’s mechanical mirror image and twin, ‘The Breeders’ here
A termite Queen will live her entire life in an underground cave, under the towering bulk of a termite mound.
A virgin termite queen starts her life when she leaves her nest and takes her first and only flight to mate. Once she lands, she will tear off her wings and crawl underground.
From this point onwards she will spend her entire life in the termite mound’s birthing chamber. Her only function will be to lay eggs, at the rate of approximately 1 every 3 seconds for the next 15 years.
The Queen’s body will change to accommodate her all-encompassing motherhood, distending from about 2cm or so to something as large as a finger. She has already lost her wings, and then her legs too are reduced to useless stumps against the bulk of her white body. Her body has changed into a large translucent, white, immobile mass. A pulsating organ for reproduction.
By this point the queen is so large she can no longer leave this birthing chamber. She is completely dependant on her offspring for feeding and cleaning. She will birth every worker in the mound and will remain in this chamber until her death. When she dies a new virgin queen will take her place.
“It’s said that when she comes to the end of her usefulness, her children gather around her and lick her to death, drawing the fluids and the fats out of her body. As the queen dies the workers keep tending her, cleaning her, and waiting for eggs. “The queen is their mother,” Moffett says. “She is their god. They have formed their whole identity around her health and safety. Once she’s gone, life does not make much sense.”Source: Margonelli, Lisa & Moffett, Mark ‘A Termite Queen And Her Ultimate Sacrifice’, 2011 May 6, Heard on All Things Considered