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ANGELA SINGER My Dearest, Dearest Creature

ANGELA SINGER My Dearest, Dearest Creature

Oedipus Rex Gallery, Auckland 14 November - 8 December 2006

Opening Preview: Tuesday 14 November 5 - 7.30 pm

Blurring the boundaries between decoration and death, artist Angela Singer’s new work My Dearest, Dearest Creature turns the taxidermic meaning of the Victorian diorama. Using a process she calls ‘de-taxidermy’ Singer reverses correct taxidermic practice. Creating inaccurate representations of unnatural environments she fills them with vintage taxidermy in unlife-like poses. For decades, taxidermy has been considered offensive, however a resurgence both in the UK and NZ has seen Victorian taxidermy dioramas sought after by interior designers, bars and restaurants. Originally a Victorian obsession with nature, taxidermy birds and animals were displayed within the family parlour as decorative objects. The Victorians hoped to recover the connection to the wild lost through industrialisation. Following the Victorian fashion, middle and upper class Victorian New Zealand homes also displayed glass cased taxidermy. As taxidermy became increasingly fashionable demand saw many untrained taxidermists taking up the craft, resulting in an abundance of awkward and clumsy taxidermy (New Zealand’s first museum, Otago Museum, contains some such specimens in its Victorian ‘Animal Attic’). The vintage taxidermy Angela Singer works with is sourced mainly by donation. She has worked with old taxidermy since the mid ‘90s. She began altering old taxidermy partly out of fear that (in New Zealand) the animal body has become so commonplace it might be rendered impotent by sheer familiarity. Angela Singer’s work calls into question the unnecessary violence humans subject animals too, as well as the notion that people are inherently separate from and superior to other species.

“…New Zealand artist Angela Singer explores the atavistic notion of the hunt, and its trophies. Like some women’s taste for fur, the hunt represents a regressive desire to reconnect with the instinctual animal self, particularly as a means to release repressed notions of conventional gender roles, in this case, man as primordial hunter. Singer uses taxidermy to present the pathetic (and actually quite bathetic) results of these primitive urges which, apart from what they imply for the animal, are so out of pace with contemporary notions of decorum, representing instead a striving for instinctual authenticity that approaches kitsch. Singer’s animal trophies evince an almost unbearable sense of realism..Contemporary mythologies of the animal are somehow fused with this sense of imminent mourning, along with a renewed curiosity in animal alterity.”

Dr Linda Williams Art & the idea of the animal The Idea of the Animal catalogue, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, 2006.

Angela Singer is currently exhibiting in The Idea of the Animal, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne International Arts Festival. Her recent exhibitions include 2nd Nature at Blue Oyster Gallery 2006, Animal Nature at The Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh 2005 and Artists on their Way, AKO5. She has been a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards five times including the 2006 touring exhibition, and has been a finalist in the Trust Waikato National Contemporary Art Award exhibition 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. She graduated MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts in 2003.

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