Thursday, 22 December 2011

Thinking the Animal


Currently trying to build a concept for an artist who wants to make an exhibition about animals. I’m finding that one of the most important things to think about when coming up with a theme for a solo exhibition is to really try and get a sense of the artist’s style and what ideological basis they may have – even if they say they don’t have any. Especially when they say they don’t have any, cause then I think it’s my job to dig it out of them. Lacking better words, most of the artists I’ve come across with have, in one way or another, made statements like “I’m just a dreamer” or “I just used this colour because I like it.” I think this is all totally fine; this is why they’re the artists and not the dealers, curators, gallery owners, etc. Not everyone think conceptually in words – just like I don’t think in images and sounds – so it becomes the curator’s job to translate the artist’s ideas into words.


So the animal project. Obviously this is a very broad topic that needs to be trimmed and pruned to give the collection a focus. Just like a good essay builds its arguments around a particular issue, a good exhibition needs to have a specific message to be conveyed by the artworks. In my conversation with the artist yesterday, I suggested that we could start with the idea of animals’ adaptive capacity to respond to their habitat. Considering his style, I then said that he could visually explore this notion of habitat into something whimsical and just plain impossible – for instance, an underwater world where water has oxygen, or a world without gravity. We agreed on this, after thinking further about the kinds of metamorphoses his animal figures could go through. Brainstorming for ideas in this way is the best thing about working with creative minds. Quite a contrast to working with academics. Right now, I’m looking at expedition accounts of wildlife and nature researchers for ideas.

Blue-ringed octopus

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