Exhibition Design Proposition #2
We recently received some very interesting art pieces by an Animal Architecture reader and artist Shannon Partridge and while somewhat outside of the normal scope of regular content brought to you on AnimalArchitecture.org we found the work to be compelling and worthy of publication on the site. The statement from the artist:
The principle of ‘behavioural enrichment’ is an animal husbandry tactic deployed to enhance the lives of captive animals, provoking thought and encouraging activity, by introducing variant stimuli to their otherwise static environments.
My current work acts as a response to two curious worlds: Western zoo exhibits and American mid-century modern interior design photographs. There are many similarities in the way these two different sets, zoo exhibits and interior design images, are active and how they are intended to relate to the viewer.
Each painting combines references from these idealized habitats to create new worlds that emphasize dramatically staged elements of both environments. The complex painted environment draws the viewer in with its spectacle of colour and decoration, and then alerts them of something amiss through a signifier: usually a miniature zoo animal. The animals are presented as domesticated, motionless and foreign in these theatrical rooms, giving a combined impression of displacement and dislocation.
In furnishing the painted interiors, I also include objects that reference, directly or indirectly, behavioural enrichment devices used in zoo exhibits. To further put into question human intent and the purpose of the object, the room, the animal; the enrichment devices have often been placed with the wrong species and camouflaged within the room.
Each painting is constructed with images in images: asymmetrical compositions, contradicting light sources and disintegrating spaces that balance between an illusion of depth and an abstract flatness. The environments in turn create a new and unsettling space for the imagination to contemplate many possible metaphors, including the artificiality of zoos and our homes, as well as the way we choose to present both wild animals and ourselves.
Each work created contains layers of research and paint, coursing subconsciously beneath the project is a recognition that the subject matter communicates with the finished painting itself. Clearly, it too has the possibility of being deployed as a form of an enrichment device for humans.
Shannon grew up in the forests of Muskoka and currently lives in Toronto, Canada. She received her MFA from the University of Waterloo, 2010, during which she connected her art with a personal interest in human-animal relationships. Through her studies she completed a six-week internship with painter Michael Borremans in Gent, Belgium, as well as had an opportunity to research zoo exhibits and natural history museums in six different European countries. Since graduating her work has been exhibited in group shows throughout Canada including: Making Scenes at Paul Petro Gallery, Toronto; Fresh Paint/New Construction at Art Mur Gallery, Montreal; and a solo show Behavioural Enrichment at Skew Gallery, Calgary. In the past two years she has attended artists residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Ox-Bow in the United States.
Detail. Exhibition Design Proposition #2
Behavioural Enrichment: Untitled (Anteater)
Behavioural Enrichment: Untitled (Indian Elephant and Giraffe)
Behavioural Enrichment: Untitled (Blue footed Penguin)
1. Exhibition Design Proposition #2, oil, acrylic, Japanese paper, Mylar, glass, 48” x 36”, 2011
2. Detail. Exhibition Design Proposition #2, oil, acrylic, Japanese paper, Mylar, glass, 48” x 36”, 2011
5. Behavioural Enrichment: Untitled (Anteater), oil, acrylic, Japanese paper, on Wood, 30” x 24”, 2010
7. Behavioural Enrichment: Untitled (Indian Elephant and Giraffe), oil, acrylic, Japanese paper, on Mylar, 24” x 36”, 2010
8. Behavioural Enrichment: Untitled (Blue footed Penguin), oil, acrylic, Japanese paper, on Mylar, 36” x 24”, 2010