Monkey Business at Artereal gallery in sydney finished on Saturday. The positive feedback was that many considered this new work to be my strongest work to date but it was also considered “very confrontational and violent!??!! Wow, dont these people watch TV, Tarantino movies and let their kids play video games in which you can shot, knife, punch and butcher people!? But of course this is different. The violence on screen is a fantasy for most of us as it is so far removed from our everyday lives. The violence presented in my work is perhaps too close to home as it examines animal exploitation, something that most are in fact supporting or even participating in. It is curious that last years exhibition at Artereal entitled “taxonomy” was not received in the same way. I believe that the animal exploitation message is more apparent in this new body of work for a number of reasons.
– Firstly the show was called ‘Monkey Business’ and featured a primate in almost every image. Human anthropocentrism dictates that we usually read animal images as being symbolic or metaphoric of human experience, so therefore the primate = human and in this case, usually the human perpetrator of cruelty.
– Secondly the works were much larger and the figures were almost the size of human children so this aids the ability to see oneself in the picture.
– Thirdly, a gun featured in 2 of the images -an obvious symbol of violence.
– Fouth, there is more movement and engagement between characters in these works. it some how gives the narrative more power and a sense of urgency. Anthropomorphized figures run from other figures, stand defeated or are trapped awaiting a cruel fate ( as in Monkey Brains).
Anyway the response has given me food for thought. Am now sourcing materials for a new series of hybrid sculptures for a show in Brisbane entitled “Australia” so am considering combining urethane kangaroo forms with foxs and rabbits and human like hands- hybrids of native and introduced species. Was going to put little hunting vests on them but this may be deemed too “violent:!
Might make the vests less obviously about hunting.