Facing the Animal: curated by CCST candidate Tarah Hogue

Opening Reception: May 25th, 8 to 11 pm. Artist Talk and Book Signing with Bill Burns: June 7th, 7 pm. Show runs to June 29, 2012.

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The Or Gallery is pleased to present Facing the Animal, a group exhibition curated by CCST candidate Tarah Hogue featuring works by Julie Andreyev, Mary Anne Barkhouse and Bill Burns.

The works in this exhibition ask what facing the animal might mean in contemporary art. Using wolves and their domesticated descendents as subjects, the artists challenge dualities of human/animal and culture/nature in favour of more complex interactions. Through narratives of conservation, industry, wilderness and urban life using the media of sculpture, photography, video and installation, we are asked to question the categories we use to shape our sense of the world in works that are both irreverent and intimate.

Vancouver-based artist Julie Andreyev’s Animal Lover series is an “interspecies collaboration” with her two dogs, Tom and Sugi, that includes video works and an online blog (http://julieandreyev.com/tomsugi-blog/). A newly compiled video collection from the blog follows the daily lives of Tom and Sugi, a portrait of the dogs’ unique behaviours and social lives. In the 2009 video installation, Aria, Tom and Sugi are pictured as the central subjects within the iconic Canadian landscape of Banff, Alberta. Recordings taken from the dogs’ vocalizations and their surrounding environment are composed into a musical soundtrack culminating in an “operatic solo” by Tom.

Mary Anne Barkhouse was born in Vancouver, BC, and belongs to the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation. Currently based in Ontario, Barkhouse uses animal imagery in ways that examine popular perceptions of them and challenge divisions between scientific and alternate forms of knowledge. With playmats and hand-made wooden wolves,  Barkhouse’s dry wit reveals contradictions between resource management and tourism that construct differing ideas of the “wilderness,” and what effects this has on an animal that is often cast to the periphery.

Toronto-based artist Bill Burns’ Dogs, Boats and Airplanes series includes a photographic collection from the artist’s travels as well as a collection of salt and pepper shakers of dogs, boats and airplanes. In its glaring absurdity, the work draws attention to the way in which dogs act as double agents that are at home in both urban and natural environments. The animals become a site of intellectual engagement with a highly rationalized and bureaucratic conception of nature, in which pedigree, global capital, movement and travel are all at stake.

Photo: Top image; Julie Andreyev, Tom and Sugi working in the studio on Animal Lover, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.
Middle image; Mary Anne Barkhouse, WMU 51, 2011, mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.
Bottom image; Bill Burns, Seoul Dogs, 2003, colour chromogenic prints. Courtesy of the artist.

This exhibition is made possible through support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia.