Contemplating Other: I know you are, You know I am
at Gallery Route One, Pointe Reyes Station, California
Exhibition runs through January 28, 2018
Includes painting, sculpture and video contemplating the human/animal relationship, while addressing confinement, wildness, and husbandry.
Organized and curated by Patricia Watts, founder of ecoartspace, in collaboration with Gallery Route One (GRO) in Point Reyes, California.
Our human relationship with animals has dramatically altered over time. As world populations continue to rise and as wild spaces are reduced due to human encroachments, our heightened interactions with animals expand our awareness of both ourselves and other. As individuals, our consciousness of the boundaries between humans and animals ultimately determines our own fate as a species. Having become dependent on animals for psychological and nutritional needs, human beings don’t often know where the self ends and the other begins.
In 2015 the New Zealand government formally recognized animals as sentient beings by amending animal welfare legislation, an enlightened perspective. This amendment acknowledges that animals experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain and distress, as humans do. Shockingly, however, the British government recently voted not to transfer parts of EU legislation into UK law, parts that recognize animals as sentient beings, a not so enlightened perspective.
Historically, it has been posited that animals live “on the surface” and do not engage in self-reflective thought. They likely did not have the ability to process events or have memories like those of humans. Their lives were considered a series of situations, one after the other, instead of an intellectual endeavor. And, we were told, they lacked critical reflection and were not able to differentiate objects from people. These theories have been considered as facts.
The three artists in Contemplating OTHER arrive at their subject from different perspectives and use diverse media, while they all reflect on the human-animal relationship in their art.
Alicia Escott places herself in the role of animal, physically cloaking herself in sheets of found plastics, upon which she has delicately painted wild animals. She then places herself in nature for documentation. Her work takes the form of photographs, video performances, and installations.
Linda Guenste makes vivid paintings that reflect her experiences of finding the remains of abandoned corrals scattered throughout the Great Plains states of America. There, cattle were historically rounded up in small groups and loaded onto trucks, then hauled off to slaughter.
Brigitta Varadi works with raw sheep wool to present an aesthetic element of farming practices, in which animals are marked with color-coded paints to identify ownership. Her paintings remind us that animal husbandry links us humans with animals psychologically as well as for our dietary survival.
ecoartapace ecoartspace is a nonprofit platform providing opportunities for artists who address the human/nature relationship in the visual arts. Since 1999 they have collaborated with over 150 organizations to produce more than 40 exhibitions, 100 programs, working with 400 + artists in 15 states nationally and 8 countries internationally. Currently they are developing a media archive of video interviews with artists and collection of exhibitions ephemera for research purposes. Patricia Watts is founder and west coast curator. Amy Lipton is east coast curator and director of the ecoartspace NYC project room.
A project of the Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs since 1999