The exhibition brings together
artifacts and archival material from the American Museum of Natural History,
in New York, and artist Trevor Gould's own work. Gould challenges the
traditional interpretations of nature by appropriating exhibition
techniques - such as diorama, taxidermy, theatrical presentation and
archival documents - and offering a reconsideration of past and present
relationships of man with nature.
The next time you enter a natural history museum, after experiencing
Gould's work, you may view it with a different perspective, a critical eye
perhaps and an acute understanding of the extent of post-colonialist
attitudes in these spaces, says AGH Senior Curator Shirley Madill. Gould
is indeed one of the most significant international artists today addressing
the complexities of issues surrounding cultural representation.
Gould's work includes watercolours, installations, and life-size sculptures.
As in a natural history museum, the organization of the space is carefully
considered; for example, lighting, wall colour, architecture, and locations
of doorways all play a role in presenting Posing for the Public.
Many of the things we consider fact are merely constructs and belong in the
realm of interpretation, says Gould.
In a gallery subtitled Under The Open Sky: The World as Exhibition, Gould
displays archival photographs taken on safari in Africa by Carl Akeley and
Martin and Osa Johnson. Akeley was an artist and taxidermist who designed
dioramas (hunting for many of the specimens he would later incorporate into
the displays himself) for the American Museum of Natural History in the
early 1900s; his work greatly influenced exhibition design and scientific
research throughout America. The Johnsons were filmmakers; their 1928 film
Simba: The King of Beasts - also shown in this gallery space - was
America's first feature-length nature film and a blockbuster hit.
Gould was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He now lives and works in
Montreal, where he teaches at Concordia University.
Trevor Gould: Posing for the Public is organized by the Musée d'art
contemporain de Montréal. The circulation of this exhibition has been made
possible by the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Recently awarded a Lieutenant Governor's Award for the Arts, the Art Gallery
of Hamilton is Ontario's third largest public gallery. It owns one of the
finest art collections in Canada. Admission to the Gallery is free,
courtesy of Orlick Industries Limited. Engage your imagination!