Nightmare Fuel

My friend Dr. Moreau tells me the word ‘freaks’ has fallen out of favor — these creatures are just chimerically challenged. We warned our readers that this show might not be to everyone’s taste, but jeez is this thing ever creepy. Taxidermy is unsettling enough, but several of these pieces feature inter-species grafting, including whatever the hell this is! Artist Kate Clark likes to reproduce the faces of friends and family, then cover them in shaved animal skins. Aaargh!

There is a divine urban tableau, a nighttime “snapshot” of a raccoon confronting a cat among piles of trash and overflowing garbage cans. A possum looks on. (I may never have seen this, but I’ve heard it. And this is exactly what I pictured.)

Curators explain the organizing principal behind ‘Dead Animals: or The Curious Occurrence of Taxidermy in Contemporary Art’ now at the Bell Gallery.

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.

This show is freaky and weird and unnerving. I liked it a lot.

Opening reception with artist Polly Morgan, 5:30pm, Friday, February 5.

The next symposium is Friday, February 26 when Rachel Poliquin will

. . . explore the cultural history of taxidermy from its earliest beginnings in sixteenth-century wonder cabinets to taxidermy’s unsettling reinvention in twenty-first century art.  A lion skin has never seemed so strange.

Exhibit runs through March 27, Bell Gallery, List Art Center, 64 College Street (directions)

(Man’s best friend waits to greet you at the door. This may the most disturbing piece of all.)

Dead Animals


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