Thank you to everyone who attended last nights Tooth&Clawr. The discussion was active, engaged and there were so many insightful observations. It has left us with plenty of food for thought and new ways of viewing the exhibition. We had a struggle with the noise levels in the Cwtch area of Chapter Cafe, but despite this everyone was still very focused. Helen Bullard's text was the perfect platform for the group to consider the complications of collaboration between artist's and scientists. As a group we discussed the similarities and dissimilarities of both areas. Artist's ability to subvert and challenge certain ethical boundaries were considered and compared with a scientists position, who have to follow strict codes of ethical conduct. The theme of Whaling communities in Japan is very prevalent in the Institute of Critical Zoologists show, and is an interesting example of an artists ability to challenge these ethical perceptions (whaling is a common, acceptable practice in Japan, whereas the West view it as barbaric). This moved us onto the strong sense of East meets West in the exhibition and the fact that most of the projects are said to have taken place in Japan or Singapore. This sense of the unknown world, and the foreign validates the scientific language and allows the viewer to read the information as truth.
We then moved on to talk about Paul Hurley's Becoming Snail, a performance piece where the artist mimics the actions of live snails in a lit greenhouse. Hurley sucked on the glass and slowed his movements so that he could not only be an observer to the snails physical activity, but could embody their perspective. Using the artist's PhD text as a platform we noted that it was a successful way to practice the art of observation, and that it was in complete contrast to the presentation of observation made by Helen Bullard and the Institute of Critical Zoologists. Both the latter artists chose to use the formal, museological approaches of display (i.e vitrines, lab cases etc.) During the performance Paul had a back pack like vessel filled with urine and vomit attached to him in order to emulate the shell of a snail. The slimy snail oozes its own bodily fluids from its shell, over its head in order to keep itself moist. Paul re-represents the scientific, factual and physical reality of the snail in his attempt to become like one of the creatures.
Our discussion was concluded with a quote from ICZ's work Some Kind of Expedition:
'The search for wildlife is also the search for authenticity and for truth. It can be religious. We constantly seek to impose meaning onto our relationship with the natural world.'
We are delighted that Tooth&Clawr sold out again which is testament to the desire for critical engagement with exhibitions. Preperations for the next session beging soon. We at Tooth&Clawr will begin chosing books and artist's to complement the next show at Chapter Gallery.
Once we have finalised the dates for the next group discussion we wil put it here on our blog site, so keep posted!We cannot wait to see you all at the next one and to sink our teeth into the next exhibition!
Hwyl fawr am nawr,