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"Animals: 17 Artists Explore the Otherness of Animals"
2004-06-24 until 2004-09-11
Haunch of Venison
London, , UK United Kingdom

Animals is a group exhibition that includes artworks by seventeen acclaimed international contemporary artists from Europe and America. The works in the exhibition all explore the issue of how the otherness of animals opens up new ways of thinking. Most of the works are new or previously unseen in the UK, and a number have been made especially for this exhibition. Artists exhibiting include Lothar Baumgarten (German, born 1944), Berlinde de Bruyckere (Belgian, born 1964), Katharina Fritsch (German, born 1956), Ellen Gallagher (American, born 1965), John Isaacs (English, born 1968), Marina Kappos (American, born 1972), Mike Kelley (American, born 1954), Oswaldo Macià (Colombian, born 1960), Jean-Luc Mylayne (French, born 1946), Bruce Nauman (American, born 1941), Joao Onofre (Portugese, born 1976), Marjetica Potra (Slovenian, born 1953), Bojan Sracvic, (Serbian, born 1974), Kiki Smith (German/American, born 1954), Diana Thater (American, born 1962), Rosemarie Trockel (German, born 1952) and Bill Viola (American, born 1951).

The works in the exhibition question the common ways we understand animals, and rather than objectifying or anthropomorphising them, present them as beings in their own right, often incomprehensible and mysterious. For example in Marina Kappos’s video, Beast, a domestic cat is shown much larger than lifesize in close-up from below, snarling at some unseen threat. The artists use a wide range of styles and media. For example, birds feature in three very different works from Jean-Luc Mylane’s photographs of birds observed over many months to the singing of 2,000 birds recorded and arranged by Oswaldo Macia in a sound sculpture, to João Onofre’s video of a wild vulture recorded in an office. This variety of approaches gives the viewer the opportunity to consider both the subjectivity of animals, and their difference from humans. By drawing attention to the similarities and differences between humans and animals the viewers’ everyday notions of human identity are challenged. Looking at animals in this way also encourages the viewer to acknowledge different ways of perceiving the world. Complex use of language differentiates humans from animals, and these works bring a focus to other methods of communication that have tended to be neglected.

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. A text by philosopher Raimond Gaita, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Kings College London, explores the relationship between animals and humans. An essay by the exhibition curator, Christiane Schneider, considers the issues raised by the exhibition.

Diana Thater
Knots + Surfaces, Small Version #1, 2001
Installation: 2 LCD projects, 1 flat screen monitor, 3 DVD players, 3 DVDs

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