Though the human animal is historically unconcerned with the welfare of the non-human animal, in increasing prominence the philosophical ‘‘question of the animal’’ (that is one which concerns the ethical and political stakes of the relationships between human and non-human animals) has been made possible by challenging the human as universal and instead allowing us to be seen as a component in a grand scheme. After all, humans are animals.
Through the works in this exhibition, artists Lois Andison, Kenn Bass, Dagmar Dahle, Tom Dean, Rebecca Diederichs, John McEwen, Arnaud Maggs, Lyndal Osborne, Su Rynard and An Whitlock propose different views on animals. The complement between representations of cultural objects and natural ones come to the fore as each artist seeks to categorize, identify, or draw distinction between species highlighting relationships and telling narrative stories. Each work speaks for itself, but a general trajectory emerges among them, due to the sequence in which they are presented.
An exhibition that includes sculpture, installation, book works, photography and video, Animal references Darwin’s ideas of evolution, implying that animals live very real lives; lives that are often romanticized in culture but none the less can include suffering, just as those of human animals can. These works allow questions and in some cases provide answers that help us make sense of the world. By telling stories, this exhibition encourages us to explore animals’ experience with imagination and fresh perspective.