April 20–May 29, 2010
Curated by Jennifer Rudder
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
NATURAL HISTORY presents works of contemporary art that revisit the history of the development of museums and zoos, and the anthropological display of humans. Inspired by the theatrical scope of the dioramas and monumental animal displays such as those at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, each artwork in NATURAL HISTORY evokes a moment in the complex history of the captivity, collection and display of wild animals and indigenous people.
Trevor Gould’s artworks take up the history of colonial pillage of animals through the work and practice of an older generation of artists and curators such as J. L. Agasse and Carl Akeley. Through layers of photographic manipulation, artist Joshua Jensen-Nagle succeeds in finding the ‘life’ in a taxidermy polar bear, photographically capturing one of the world’s largest beasts at a time when the species is threatened by extinction. Crystal Mowry’s critical examination of one life implicated in the vicious racism at the base of the anthropological display is crucial to our understanding of that past. Volker Seding’s rigorous photographic documentation haunts the exhibition with the abjection that was until recently, the zoo. Mircea Cantor’s video confronts us with the separation over time of human from mammal and presents us with the possibility of imagining a renewed coexistence.
This exhibition was produced for the MVS degree in Curatorial Studies at the University of Toronto.
Tuesday April 20, 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Justina M. Barnicke
We gratefully acknowledge the operating support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Title Image: Installation view of Natural History, 2010. Trevor Gould, Model of Nubian Giraffe with Landscape (After Jacques-Laurent Agasse, 1827), 1997-1998. Dimensions variable. Image credit: Toni Hafkenscheid.