what are you planning on making for the exhibition ?
so the exhibition includes several handmade rugs, modified and newly created dogbowls (or objects to eat from) and audio pieces. As well as an intervention done outside of the gallery.
whereabouts outside the gallery?
there's three locations along high street and in these three locations there are palces for humans and animals to eat together. so there are low-lying structures to give no hierarchy to which food the animal or human takes. it woould be the same food and each structure has two places to eat from so you can be eating at the same time as someone (or something) else. Out of the same trough.
do you know this brand of dog bowl called mason cash?
they make these really archetypal bowls that people have in all their homes in the UK. they also make the same style but mixing bowls, like for cakes.
my attempt is to have the animal-eating-object transcend its level from the animal world to the human level. also as an object to transcend from the object level. so that we can break down this hierarchy between humans animals and objects. i want to exist on a flat plane with each other.
because we live in a late-capitalist society that is human-centric and because of this we value ourselves over animals and objeccts. so this is more of an attempt to soemhow breakdown that hierarchy and have us all exist on the same level and therefore empathizing and giving more care to each other.
can you describe more what the audio pieces are?
the audio pieces include sounds of humans, animals, and objects all consuming. not to say that all objects have a consumptive function. it will be sounds of humans eating, animals eating, and objects say being filled if that is there function. also the sounds of objects being eaten out of gives the object a closeness with the action of eating. when a human or animal is eating out of a bowl and you're recording the sounds of the bowl, then you're bringing them closer to the same level.
how will the audio piece be installed?
some of the audio pieces come from within the dog bowls which are in the gallery space with the rugs. the audio is on headphones which come out of the dogbowls. the cords are at such a length that you have to be down on all fours like an animal to listen to the work. at the same time you are confronted with the food that's in the bowls. this forces the viewer to be interacting with the piece in proximity whether its because they are interested in the food or interested in the sound. both bring them down to the level of the animal.
what are the rugs?
the rugs look like cartographies. giving the idea of a map or a large floorplan. the rug itself has recessed tufts to hold the eating vessels. the rug operates as the structure that holds these things. the rugs are also MRI's of dog brains, informing the whole concept of the work.
the dog for me is an easy example, because the dog is the closest animal that humans can relate to in the sense of companionship and empathy. many people already have a close kinship with a dog. the dog can then be used as a device to illustrate the possibility of a certain empathy or relationship with things. it offers closer relationships to the bowls as well. i'd like animals to visit the show, and i would not say that only dogs are welcome. i would like any animals to come in and eat, whether its people's pets or stray cats from outside. the same goes for the outdoor eating stations. those can be eaten at by human art patrons or humans in need, but also by people who may be walking their dog or cat by or animals from the community.
what will the food be?
the food will be high-quality human-grade vegetarian organic foodstuff. it will be a sort of dry kibble fit for human consumption.
have you any titles in mind for the exhibition?
i don't have any particular titles in mind yet, but i'm very inspired by Franz Kafka's The Cares of a Family Man in which he describes an object he calls the Obradek. I'm interested in this type of fantastic word that gives an object new meaning. It's short story in which he describes a creature that is actually a spool of thread with a piece of wood coming out of it. He describes it as if it is alive. It is actually just a waste-product from manufacturing. It's Kafka's critique of capitalism in which he gives this object its own validity by giving it a new name and looking at it in a way which elevates above just being the refuse of capitalist culture. Potentially something like fantasy words or maybe a direct reference to the Kafka piece could be informing the title.
what materials would you like the rugs to be made of?
i would prefer to use something like a natural cotton as opposed to the traditional wool that is used in rug making. The wool is again entering into the human hierarchy where we believe that sheep are to be used at our service.
it might be nice if we could use some recycled human hair.
recycled materials would be good but i would prefer to do it either by exploiting the human or not exploiting nature. somewhere between recycled organic materials. Perhaps it could be done by breaking down old clothes and creating new yarns out of that.
katarina cameron could help you with this process.
yes she would be an excellent collaborator for this aspect of this piece, and sources tell me she would love to work with me on this.
you seem to be interested in playing around with conceptions of the status of animals and objects. as far as your authorship, how are you going to experiment with this? you are a keen collaborator...
i am a keen collaborator and i would like to invite performers and possibly even people from the human-pup subculture to come and initiate interactions in the space. i don't know if every visitor will get down and begin eating out of the bowls, but if other people are already doing this in the space it can make this easier. potentially the entire public can become a collaborator in the work when they're eating in the piece. the animals as well. i could invite people to initiate these responses in the case the public doesn't go there on their own.
how would you like the promotion of the exhibition to happen?
i'd like the promotion to be more of an invitation to participate rather than a typical art mailer. This typical one would maybe just be a photo of one of the sculptures or carpets. i think that the materials that i've create - the carpets, the bowls, and the structures outside - are only the result of the interaction that is more central as a concept. all the material comes from that central point. for me the invitation would be a short text inviting and explaining the work slightly. this is also so that the public intervention is not just passed by on the street, but rather so people know this is something they are actively invited to engage with and eat from.
what is important to you about eating? are there any other activities you feel also cross this interspecies platform? i'm thinking about movement and language and mouths...
i'm thinking about language, and i'm thinking the sounds of eating are a language we all speak together. perhaps also the sounds of pissing and shitting are on the same level. with animals these are the basic functions that we share in an elementary way. dogs and other animals are also receptive to human language. eating i think is the one simple thing that we share with animals. with objects it is more difficult because they are inanimate and often not moving or serving a function that resembles consumption or exhaustion of a material. something like a gas stove is an obvious example that uses a resource to function and also exhausts heat or another kind of gas. Metaphorically this type of thing is easy to call eating. It's the same sort of feeding. Things like gas are harder to make this metaphor with, unless you want to think about the geological processes which something like methane is formed from. this is the consumption of minerals and underground matter underground. This is bringing it back to nature, and then you can say nature is feeding this machine (the gas stove). I like to think since we all have these functions, then we exist on the same plane. Consume and create waste.
quite often at the cinema next door we try to program relevant films to the exhibitions. is there anything you would like to be shown?
They live by John Carpenter is an important film for me. Its about Roddy Piper (an American Pro-wrestler) who finds a box of sunglasses which let him see the world as it really is. The world turns into this black and white place where everything like billboards and newspapers are just hosting propaganda. He's in this really dystopian capitalist society where all the visual world is controlling his mind. But he finds the glasses and is able to see what is really going on, and then he is trying to expose the truth of the capitalist world. The Adventures of Milo and Otis is a film about a cat and a dog who hang out and chat with each other and they're friends. This personification and human-voice is relevant even if its made for kids. [shows interviewer the trailer] These are nice because they're a little less obvious compared to something like Animal Farm. I try to not be didactic in my work but still make the work from a certain position. I don't like to force an idea that things are one certain way. It gives me a place to create art from, but I in no way want to say that these are the way things should be. The love for adventure and the adventure of love are the two most relevant themes in my practice.
I think it's important to talk about where I'm from in relation to this. This was in the American Southwest, and also reserved land for the Tohono O'odham Nation of Native Americans. They use personification to refer to both plants and animals. They do this to give a deeper respect for things like the saguaro cactus (called a sun-gazer) so people can identify with it more than just as a plant. Through this policy has been passed in the state of Arizona so that it has become a felony to cut this kind of cactus down. I think that I'm trying to use this framework that I grew up very close to as a means to further this discussion of personification and empathy with plants and animals. Also the tradition of rug-making is an art-form from the community. I was also taught ceramics at a young age by the native people of Arizona, as well as an introduction to making rugs by hand. Now I am making them with a machine. There's a lot of ties to this community that I grew up with.
in terms of reference, how much further does that context take us in terms of communicating with your work. is it more here in this conversation or would it be more visible in the gallery or public space?
i think it helps inform the origins of this mode of thinking in myself. I'm not fetishizing their practices, but this relationship that they have with the world has had a profound impact on my understanding of the world from a young age. This type of care for nature, objects, and each other is strong.