At a time when natural history museums are moving away from taxidermy, a resurgence of interest has been manifest in the popular culture—in internet blogs and image collections, in fashion and commercial advertising—and in the visual arts. Dead Animals surveys current artistic usage of taxidermy through the work of eighteen artists: Maurizio Cattelan, Kate Clark, Mark Dion, Nicholas Galanin, Thomas Grünfeld, Damien Hirst, Karen Knorr, Annette Messager, Polly Morgan, Deborah Sengl, Angela Singer, Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir/Mark Wilson, Richard Barnes, Jules Greenberg, Sarah Cusimano Miles, Richard Ross, and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
The exhibition and accompanying symposium will examine the cultural history of taxidermy, social factors that have contributed to artists’ interests in the “idea of the animal,” and the ways in which these interests are manifest in artists’ works. It will question how taxidermy, with its inherent association with death, differs from the use of live animals or animal substitutes such as stuffed animals, and why taxidermy may be particularly relevant to the exploration of the human-animal question. Finally, it will examine ethical issues surrounding the incorporation of animals in art.
Curated by Jo-Ann Conklin
Image: Thomas Grünfeld, Misfits (penguin/peacock), 2005. Copyright 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn