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Animality - Dunedin 24 June to 5 July 2003

Animality

Blue Oyster Art Gallery and Project Space 137 High Street Dunedin www.blueoyster.org.nz

24 June to 5 July 2003

Artists: Jordan Baseman (London), Catherine Chalmers (New York), Nicky Coutts (London), Karl Grimes (Ireland), Kate Rohde (Australia), Angela Singer (New Zealand), Kathryn Spence (California), Daniel Unverricht (New Zealand), David Wilkinson (London). Curator: Angela Singer

(Artists Kate Rohde, Daniel Unverricht and Angela Singer will be at the show opening).

Animality will explore the connections between our understandings of animals and the cultural conditions in which these understandings have been formed.

Exhibiting artists have created works that radicalise the use of animals and animal imagery to address a range of questions about morality, responsibility and our relationship with the natural world.

A somewhat disturbing film by London based artist Jordan Baseman observes two men surrounded by soft toy animals in a defunct chocolate shop. Titled, The One About the Camel the film was produced during one of Jordan's many artist residencies. Jordan's work was screened last year at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
The works of New York based photographer Catherine Chalmers reintroduces into our cultural landscape the less-romantic aspects of nature from which we have sought to separate ourselves. Catherine will show work from her series Food Chain, a series of images exploring the species-to-species chain of consumption. Catherine's work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Vienna, Center of Contemporary Art, Seattle and P.S.1, New York.

London based Nicky Coutts's digitally manipulated photographic series The Inheritors explores what happens when animals gaze at humans or are lost in their own thoughts. In Nicky's work human eyes are seamlessly grafted onto animal faces, collapsing and confusing the species divide. The Inheritors was shown last year at the ICA, London and earlier this year at The Royal Albert Museum.

From the glass menageries of animals housed in the Hubrecht Laboratory, Netherlands, and the Tornblad Institute, Sweden, comes Dublin artist Karl Grimes photographic series Future Nature. Captured in a state of grace, the foetal images invite us to view and enter a contemplative mode - where colour and large scale render them both close-up yet distant, creating an allegorical world where death and immortality are present[ed] in living colour. Future Nature was shown last year at the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin.

New sculptural work from Melbourne artist Kate Rohde investigates the way humans exploit an animals physical attributes to produce goods for our usage. Kate's work focuses on the Sable, a member of the weasel family. Endowed with a lustrous coat of fur, the Sable’s tail hairs are used to make arguably the best (and most expensive) paint brushes in the world.

The animal rights theme continues in the work of New Zealand based artist Angela Singer. She will exhibit a new series of sculptural works exploring trophy hunting. Angela works with donated old taxidermy trophy kill, stripping the skin from the taxidermic support, creating from wax the animal form as flayed flesh. Her background as an animal rights activist informs her work.

California based artist Kathryn Spence will be showing pigeons made from street trash. Of her work she says, "How dirty is too dirty and how does dirt make us feel? To confuse the contexts I have brought trash and mud inside. I've dirtied things and put them into clean spaces. Working with little stand-ins which reference real life, I hope to call attention to the inseparable connection between the physical and psychological in everyday life." Kathryn's work has been exhibited in the United States at The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Armory Center for the Arts.

New Zealand artist Daniel Unverricht explores animal instinct and urban violence. He will exhibit a still life representational painting of a pet rabbit, it's skin and flesh torn open by a pet dog. This work was previously exhibited in "Still Life" at the Hawke's Bay Museum, New Zealand.

Porcelain sculptural works will be shown by London artist David Wilkinson. David works with broken porcelain figures from flee markets, which he fixes. He says the porcelains already contain forms of narrative, often they are idealised and kitsch. What he adds to them in a sense is already present, a form of play occurs that stretches them and makes them more. Themes are exaggerated and content overloaded in order to produce displacement of the comfort and simple pleasure for which they were originally produced. David's work has previously been shown at the Austrian Cultural Forum, London and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki.

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