Donna Bailey (Australia), Roger Ballen (South Africa), Marco Bok (Australia), Yvonne Doherty & Justin Spiers (Australia), Patricia Driscoll & Tamsyn Reynolds (South Africa), Chris Fortescue (Australia) & Katharina Struber (Austria), Hayden Fowler (Australia), Rachel Fuller (Australia), Su Goldfish (Australia), Petrina Hicks (Australia), Nicole Jean Hill (USA), Carol Jerrems (Australia), Aleksandras Macijauskas (Lithuania), Michael Northrup (USA), Carolee Schneemann (USA), Arthur Tress (USA), Michael Vale (Australia), Beverley Veasey (Australia), Hanneke van Velzen (Netherlands) and William Wegman (USA).
Treasured and treacherous: Our non-human companions take over the newly renovated Australian Centre for Photography this summer.
From feline voyeurism and canine collaboration to animal aesthetics and inter-species treachery, Pet Project as its title suggests, looks at the personal and particular bonds we forge with animals. An exhibition of international and Australian photomedia art, Pet Project explores visual representation of companion animals, ideas of "significant otherness" and humankind's equivocal connection to the non-human.
For many people in westernised societies, pets and domesticated creatures act as our last remaining tie to the animal kingdom - largely held at bay by deforestation, agriculture and the rapidly expanding metropolis. In recent years however, the use and portrayal of animals by contemporary artists has gained a degree of prominence. Now it would appear that questioning our relationship to other living beings has found some intellectual currency, rather than being sidelined as merely sentimental, whimsical or eccentric - qualities generally deemed to belong to so-called low art and culture.
The works included in this exhibition variously challenge and consider notions of property and ownership, inter-species power dynamics, kinship, collaboration and the ways in which animals are used as evocative symbols and tropes in art - signifying altogether human themes, aspirations, hopes and fears.
Through photographic studio portraits, staged tableaux, candid documentary photographs, photo-based installation and video, the artists selected for Pet Project reveal complexity and depth in animal companionship. Here they explore provocative ideas, from species disconnection and loneliness, to the dissolution of the animal/human divide.
Donna Bailey (AUS)
Ambition 2005, Honour 2005, Promise (Blanche and Serene) 2005,
Compassion 2005 All type C prints 50 x 65cm
This series of images of children and their pets stems from the artist's curiosity about small people and the (usually) easy, yet fascinating relationships that they have with their special animals. The children pictured in this series all live in rural settings near Bendigo, in central Victoria. Chinese history and culture has a strong presence in Bendigo and each image has been named after the individual characteristics of the rabbit, rat, rooster and dog as they are represented within Chinese astrology.
Donna Bailey lives near Kangaroo Flat in central Victoria and is well known for her images of her children and their friends. She has participated in numerous exhibitions throughout Australia since the late 1990s, including at the ACP, NGV, Art Gallery of NSW, CCP, Monash University Museum of Art, Monash Gallery of Art and over 20 regional and other galleries.
Roger Ballen (South Africa)
Puppy between feet 1999, Portrait of a sleeping girl 2000 both resin prints 63.5 x 64.5cm,
Early Morning 2001, Guardian 2001, Fraught 2003 all digital prints 65 x 65cm
Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney
Ballen's staged photographs of South African workers, miners and farmers in their homes with family members, animals and pets are both sensitive and quietly shocking. In recent work, his photographic compositions have taken-on sculptural and painterly qualities that are far removed from his documentary photography origins.
Roger Ballen was born in New York City in 1950 and has lived in Johannesburg South Africa for almost 30 years. Beginning by documenting the small dorps or villages of rural South Africa, Ballen's photography moved on in the late 1980's and early 1990's to their inhabitants. By the mid 1990's his subjects began to act where previously his pictures however troubling fell firmly into the category of documentary photography.
Marco Bok (AUS)
Running Dog 2006 seven untitled digital type C prints mounted on aluminium
Marco Bok's photographic practice revolves around the streets and parklands of the city of Sydney where he finds moments of delight and pathos in everyday situations. In this exhibition, an installation of seven works has been taken from his extensive series of 35mm photographs that document his dogs at play in Centennial Park. Capturing frozen moments of gleeful interaction and speed, these photographs vary in their level of abstraction to reveal canine motion in ways we cannot perceive in real time.
Marco Bok is a photographer and lecturer in photography based in Sydney. He has a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in sociology) from Australian National University, Canberra and a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University. He has most recently held a solo exhibition at Customs House in Circular Quay.
Yvonne Doherty and Justin Spiers (AUS)
Pet Photo Booth 2006 live photobooth
Gypsy & Preshus 2006, Jenny & William 2006, Stephan & Captain Reese 2006, John & Alice 2006, Andrea,Tristan, Valentino & Tatiana 2006 all digital type C prints 50 x 60cm each
The Pet Photo Booth concept was realised in 2005 by Yvonne and Ali Doherty as part of Perth's Artrage Festival. In its new, portable incarnation, Doherty and photographer Justin Spiers have taken the cheesy shopping-mall photo booth to a new dimension by inviting owners to pose with their primped and preened pets. The works in this exhibition have been taken during recent outings of the booth in rural Western Australia. The Pet Photo Booth backdrops are installed at ACP in order to capture some of Sydney's pet owners and their furry charges.
Justin Spiers is a photographer, curator and director of the Perth Centre for Photography Gallery. Yvonne Doherty is a photographer and the presenter of a local radio arts program.
"Justin is a very insightful photographer and takes most of the photos," says Doherty. "He has this uncanny ability to capture images that reveal something deeply personal about his subjects and their relationship with their pets.
"So far the reaction has been amazing, and this reflects the love and, dare I suggest, the obsession that people have for their animals." Yvonne Doherty interviewed by Rosalie Higson
Patricia Driscoll & Tamsyn Reynolds (South Africa)
six photographs and text from the Judas Goat series Judas Goat 2000, Judas Goat and Kid 2000, Moving sheep 2000, Pigs behind bars 2000, Cows 2000, Factory 2000
all digital type C prints 50 x 62cm
With writer Tamsyn Reynolds, Patricia Driscoll collaborated in 2000 on a photo story that combined their common interest in the plight and processing of herd animals for food. During their research they came across the curious phenomenon of the Judas goat - a traitorously-titled "pet" kept by abattoir workers to lead other animals to the slaughter.
"At the Maitland abattoir in Cape Town, the Judas Goats meet the sheep as they are offloaded from the trucks, and lead them into the holding pens, the sheeps' last stop before being slaughtered. The goats are born and raised at the abattoir. Unlike the sheep, they are completely at ease with its sights, smells and sounds, and their calmness and authority appear to soothe the sheep into submission."
"The goats seem to know exactly what to do without being told. Like a welcome committee they wait for the sheep to begin disembarking. Then they lead them, past the pens of waiting pigs and cows, to their own holding pens. The Judas goats enter the pen and wait until all the sheep are in before slipping out prior to the gate being closed." Tamsyn Reynolds
Patricia Driscoll is a South African freelance photographer and photojournalist based in Johannesburg. Tamsyn Reynolds is a writer based in Johannesburg.
Chris Fortescue (AUS) & Katharina Struber (Austria)
Guinnes, Zobel, Elfi , Lemmy, Gras, Billy, Vaneyk, Hannerl from the series Hundezone 2002
digital type C prints 90 x 90cm
Chris Fortescue is a Canberra-based conceptual artist who working with local Austrian artist Katharina Struber, staged HUNDEZONE in Vienna in 2002. HUNDEZONE or DOGSPACE was a site-specific work developed in response to the prevalence of dog ownership in Vienna. The artists took-over a nondescript shopfront and converted it into a photographic studio, then waited for passers-by-with-dogs to discover the space, engaging them in conversations. The dog portraits that were eventually taken were posted online. For this exhibition, the artists have made enlarged prints of these low-res, pixellated portraits - retaining their lo-fi digital origins.
Hayden Fowler (AUS)
Goat Odyssey 2006 looped digital video on DVD 15 min 10 sec, Nursling I - V 2006 digital type C prints 65.5 x 99.5cm photo credit: Michael Randall, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Barry Keldoulis, Sydney
Using the domestic animal as metaphor, Hayden Fowler seeks to question the place of humanity within nature and thereby notions of power and freedom. In his Fellini-esque photographic series Nursling, a young, semi-naked man occupies and shares a synthetic environment with two goats and a repetitively whirring fan. This claustrophobic, airless space becomes the stage for an ambiguous relationship reversal - recalling the tale of Romulus and Remus, or Kipling's Mowgli - where the young man depicted appears to be reliant on this other, domesticated species for care, nutrient and support.
Sydney-based Hayden Fowler is a photomedia, video and installation artist who trains and works-with animals for his various multimedia projects. He is currently undertaking a Masters in Fine Arts by research at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in biology from University of Waikato, New Zealand.
Rachel Fuller (AUS)
Losing you is not about me 2005
looped 2 channel digital video on DVD 7 min, videographer Tim Douglas
Rachel Fuller's meditative dual-channel video work considers the loss of companionship from the perspective of an observer who can only contemplate, but never fully grasp the effect of that loss upon another being. In this work, Fuller has documented two scenes of her farm dogs; one prior to, and the other following the death of one of the animals. Vitality and affinity on one screen is juxtaposed against patient solitude on the other.
Rachel Fuller is a recent graduate of Sydney College of the Arts where she majored in photomedia. She is continuing her studies at the Universität der Kunste in Berlin in 2007.
Su Goldfish (AUS)
Lost Pet Portraits #1 2006, Lost Pet Portraits #2 2006 both duratransparencies 80 x 100cm
Su Goldfish's Lost Pet Portraits are vivid and affectionate images of well-loved, semi-precious statues of cats and dogs. As kitsch, chipped, china objects they have been liberated by the artist from the "lost pet shelters" of second-hand and op-shops and re-cast into small, formal photographic narratives.
"My father used to give me china animals when I was a child. They had their own tiny set of shelves that hung on my bedroom wall. I wasn't really meant to play with them but of course I did and, of course, necks would snap, ears would chip and legs would break... I feel great affection for them, often busted up and chipped with their wonky eyes and damaged ears and I wonder who painted such lonesomeness into their faces. To me they radiate patience and melancholy, wistfulness and possible mischief." Su Goldfish
Su Goldfish is an artist, filmmaker, board member of Queer Screen and Manager of the Production Unit at the iO Myers Studio, University of New South Wales.
Nicole Jean Hill (USA)
Mr. Mouse 2005, Chuck 2006, Shaniqua 2006, Lucy 2006, Cockroaches 2006, Lou 2005
all type C Prints 49 x 59cm
Nicole Jean Hill takes photographs of caged and uncaged domestic pets. In various homes and living spaces he explores the often decorative and aesthetic nature of animal domestication and the relationship of ordinary people to the non-human. Hill is particularly interested in the idea of "species loneliness" as identified by philosopher Robert Harrison in his book Toward a Philosophy of Nature, and the attraction of humans to physical and emotional contact with animals at the same time as departing from the natural world.
Nicole Jean Hill is a photographer based in California where she is Assistant Professor of Photography at Humboldt State University. Hill has exhibited across the USA and Canada and has recently held a solo exhibition at Gallery Sottoportego in Venice, Italy.
Petrina Hicks (AUS)
Shenae & Jade 2005 digital type C print on aluminium 117 x 102cm, Jackson & Tiger 2005 digital type C print on aluminium 117 x 102cm Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney
Petrina Hicks is a photographer who deals with ideas of perfection and imperfection, stereotypes and reality. Her works featuring children with animals convey a tension between trust, play and the threat of violence. In Shenae & Jade, a young girl engages in an activity with a budgie that could be viewed from one perspective as a well-rehearsed parlour trick, but from another, a breach of trust. In Jackson & Tiger, the cattle dog bares his teeth through the interference of the boy that holds him, making it unclear as to who of the two species is potentially the most dangerous.
Petrina Hicks is based in Sydney. In 2004 she was awarded the Sydney Life, Art & About, City of Sydney photography prize, and in 2003 the Fisher's Ghost Art Award, Prize for Contemporary Art Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery, NSW and the Josephine Ulrick Photography Award for Portraiture, Tweed River Art Gallery, NSW. Her work is held in collections at Albury City Gallery, Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery, Tweed River Art Gallery, Gold Coast City Art Gallery and ACMP collections.
Carol Jerrems (AUS)
Trentham Blues 1972 six gelatin silver prints 25.4 x 17.8cm each
Courtesy of the artist 's estate and the National Gallery of Australia
Legendary Australian photographer Carol Jerrems produced this six-image series Trentham Blues at her own residence in Trentham Street, Melbourne. Taken across a single day from one, fixed vantage point, the works capture her greyhound in various uneasy emotional states brought about by waiting for human interaction and attention. The photographs traverse emotional territory from loneliness and despondency to hopeful expectation.
The loan of these works to the Australian Centre for Photography is part of the National Gallery of Australia's partnership program. This program aims to provide greater public access to the Gallery's collection, and marks the continuation of an alliance with an important New South Wales partner.
Aleksandras Macijauskas (Lithuania)
eleven untitled gelatin silver prints from the series In the Veterinary Clinic 1972-1992
In the Veterinary Clinics is a series of photographs made in the late 1970's in a rural part of Lithuania. There Macijauskas observed a team of vets at a veterinary training school working to heal animals as diverse as cats, dogs, horses, sheep, goats, fowl and injured wetland birds. The images are uncanny, humorous, disturbing and occasionally horrifying. The surgery Macijauskas captures is hands-on, physical and bloody, far removed from the sanitised and clinical waiting rooms we are used to occupying in Australia.
Aleksandras Macijauskas was born in Kaunas, Lithuania on 16 May 1938. He has exhibited widely all over Europe and is a member and executive of the Lithuanian Union of Art Photographers.
Carolee Schneemann (USA)
Fuses 1964-66 16mm silent film converted to DVD 18 min
Courtesy of the artist and Electronic Arts Intermix, New York
Schneemann's Fuses is a silent, colour work originally made on 16mm film. The film comprises collaged and painted sequences of lovemaking between the artist and her then partner, composer James Tenney. Intercut between these filmic passages are images of her cat, Kitch who quietly observes - from the bed and windowsill - their human activity. In Fuses, as its title suggests, Kitch becomes interwoven within an exuberant document of pleasure and life shared between different living beings.
Carolee Schneemann is a senior multidisciplinary artist working across painting, photography, performance art and installation. Her work is characterised by research into archaic visual traditions, taboos and the female body in capitalist culture. She has had major solo exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and most recently in a retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York entitled "Up To and Including Her Limits". Schneemann has published widely and her books include Cezanne, She Was A Great Painter (1976), Early and Recent Work (1983); More Than Meat Joy: Performance Works and Selected Writings (1979, 1997).
Arthur Tress (USA)
Hand and Paw, Los Angeles (Aids Patient Napping with Pet Dog) 1999 Naked Man & Recently Deceased Cat, Chicago 1999, Young Woman with her Pet Great Dane, Santa Fe 1979 all gelatin silver prints
In these staged photographs Tress has captured three moments of intimacy between people and their pets. As a maker of tableau images, Tress infuses his work with surreal qualities while remaining true to the social issues he encounters and lives with. Loss, grief and care are explored through poignant and playful compositions. Love is represented as a complicated and sometimes painful emotion.
Arthur Tress was born in New York and currently resides in California. He has exhibited extensively both within the United States and internationally. His exhibition Talisman travelled to the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany and Musee de la Photographie in Belgium. His far eastern retrospective Fantastic Voyage has travelled to India, Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and Taiwan.
Michael Vale (AUS)
The Long Walk 2005 digital video on DVD 5 min 12 sec
The subject of Vale's new work The Long Walk is the smoking dog inspired by the popular illustrations of J. J. Grandville and Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. The dog acts as a representation of low art that is contemporaneous with the most dynamic decades of Modernism. With qualities that cast him as a walking repudiation of High Modernist principles, he is also a symbol of the disappearing relationship between humans and animals. In The Long Walk, the dapper, pipe-smoking dog wends his way through Venice, Charleville and Paris searching for the Symbolist poet, Arthur Rimbaud.
Michael Vale is a Melbourne artist and teacher where he lectures in the painting departments at Monash University, RMIT, RMIT Hong Kong, and LaTrobe St. College. He was the founding director of Linden Gallery, St.Kilda and also renovated the Luna Park Ghost Train in 2000. His work is held in public and private collections and he has painted murals in Greece and Singapore. He is now collaborating on short films with his wife, Donna McRae. Their first film, Le Chien Qui Fume has recently been screened in Italy and around Australia.
Beverley Veasey (AUS)
Nelson 2006 digital type C print 140 x 207cm
In Veasey's recent photographic series, Natural History 1, she depicts different animal species within artificial environments.
"This work depicts a time in the future when a number of different animal species have been lost or put under threat in the wild." Beverley Veasey
Leached of all colour and context, the ethereal-looking white and grey animals float like lonely specimens against a clinical background. For Pet Project Veasey has immortalised her own lost Labrador, Nelson in the same style. His statuesque head oversees activity in the gallery below.
Beverley Veasey is a Sydney-based photographer whose work has been exhibited extensively across Australia. She currently lectures in photography at the National Art School.
Hanneke van Velzen (Netherlands)
Ruby 1998, Black 1998, Golden 1998, Betsy 1998, Mavis1998 from the series 5 dogs all pigment prints 47 x 30.5cm
Velzen takes macro photographs, landscape photographs, typographical studies and portraits investigating patterns and repetition in nature. Through her representation of ordinary and naturally occurring things she finds archetypal and sometimes otherworldy themes interconnecting the images. Her photographs of dogs show five different breeds of canine lying on their backs. The dogs all stare self-consciously and trustfully at the camera, in their most prone and defenceless position.
"Dogs have no inhibitions about showing their vulnerability and affection to those who love and care for them". Hanneke van Velzen
Hanneke van Velzen was born in The Hague, The Netherlands. She lives and works in New York, USA and Rotterdam, The Netherlands. With a degree in photography from Rochester University, New York, she has been exhibiting widely across the United States and the Netherlands since the late 1980's.
William Wegman (USA)
Cubic Chip 2001 56 x 43cm, Stepping 2003 four-panel 76 x 61cm each, Candy Up 2006 61 x 76cm, Stick Bug 2006 43 x 56cm all pigment prints Courtesy of the artist and Senior & Shopmaker Gallery, New York
"William Wegman has gained international recognition for his work in photography, painting, drawing and video. A postmodern, conceptual humorist, he has been termed a "master of whimsy, whose [works] have a charm and absurdist intelligence sometimes worthy of Beckett," by The New Yorker. Although Wegman is best well known for his witty portraits of his Weimeraner dogs, he is a highly original figure in the history of video art. His comedic, performance-based tapes of the 1970s are among the most enduring of video classics." Electronic Arts Intermix
In these formally constructed images, Wegman's Weimeraners are arranged and posed in relation to space, objects and one another, creating playful compositions of fur-on-white. While recently made, these photographs are reminiscent of Wegman's early work with his first dog, Man Ray where the stoic, patient subject was placed in spatial relationships to ambiguous symbols and objects as if trying to learn from them and make sense of the world. Through the collaborative nature of his Weimeraners, Wegman's body of work on a fundamental level, questions the nature of authority and the structures of power.
Wegman has exhibited and published widely. His most recent retrospective exhibition Funney/Strange is currently travelling around major institutions in the US.
© Yvonne Doherty and Justin Spiers Andrea, Tristan, Valentino and Tatiana 2006
© Donna Bailey Promise (Blanche and Serene) 2005
© Roger Ballen Puppy Between Feet 1999 Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney
© Marco Bok Whippet in Flight 2005
© Yvonne Doherty and Justin Spiers Pet Photo Booth 2006
© Tamsyn Reynolds Judas Goat 2000
© Chris Fortescue and Katharina Struber Elfi 2002
© Hayden Fowler Nursling II 2006 Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Barry Keldoulis, Sydney, photo credit Michael Randall
© Rachel Fuller Losing you is not about me 2005
© Su Goldfish Lost Pet Portraits #1 2006
© Nicole Jean Hill Lou 2005
© Petrina Hicks Shenae & Jade 2005)
© Aleksandras Macijauskas untitled 1972-1992
© Michael Northrup untitled 2000
© Michael Vale The Long Walk 2005
© Beverley Veasey Nelson 2006
© Hanneke van Velzen Mavis 1998
© William Wegman Cubic Chip 2001 Courtesy of the artist and Senior & Shopmaker Gallery, New York
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