July 21, 2012

Art Critical Zoology

Institute of Critical Zoologists, Iriamondi Cat (Pulau Pejantan series) 2009, via P·P·O·W

"Pulau Pejantan is a remote island of Indonesia. Nick-named Sand Forest Island, Pulau Pejantan is a unique island with extremely unique geographical features and biodiversity. Virtually undiscovered till June 2005, the island boosts a treasure trove of unique species that is found no where else in the world such as the bizarre sand worms which moves about like packs of snakes around the island's dune to the Lantern Fish which greets you in the sea before you reach the island.

Isolated in the Pacific Ocean, about 70% of the estimated 600 species found on the island exist nowhere else on the globe. The island is home to such evolutionary oddities as the Ghost Hare, a black and white hound like animal, pale-white reptiles and birds which has adapted to the sand dunes and forest habitat, spiny burrowing ant-eaters, and the rock pheasant, a bird that lives in the sand dunes." (via)

Long Tail Paradise Crow, 2009

The Institute for Critical Zoologists aims to develop a critical approach to the zoological gaze, or how humans view animals. Urban societies live in relative isolation from animals; however, our demand and gaze upon them have grown significantly over the last century. It is undeniable that looking at animals is considered both desirable and pleasurable in societies. Animals convey meaning and values that are culture-specific, and in viewing the animal, we cannot escape the cultural context, political climate and social values in which that observation takes place.

The relationship between animals and humans has reached an appalling state. There is increased visual exploitation of animals (there are more then a thousand zoos in the world and twice as many natural history museums); and there is exploitation of animals as commodity (tiger parts are traded for commerce to save them in China). Not to mention the environmental, ecological, cultural threats of zoos, animal performances, animal agriculture, poaching, economic-driven conservation biology, natural history museums displays and animal memorabilia, to which human anthropomorphism plays a pivotal role.

We seek to develop a Critical Zoological Gaze that pursues creative, interdisciplinary research that includes perspectives typically ignored by animal studies, such as aesthetics; and to advance unconventional, even radical, means of understanding human and animal relations. The institute also discourages anthropomorphism in the appreciation and understanding of zoology."

See and read more about the Pulau Pejantan series, by Institute of Critical Zoologists. A click through the entire image gallery is highly recommended.

If you live in New York, see the first picture in person at P·P·O·W gallery's Earth WORKS: Ten Artists on Land and Industry, through July 27.

1 comment:

Claudette said...

i missed this one somehow. super fantastic! this reminds me of Socotra, another otherworldly place that had been off limits to foreigners (it has a native people) for a long time. not anymore, though. it worries me to think what those "discoveries" may lead to. we don't have a good track record, us humans.

amen to the disgustingness of anthropomorphism of animals. on a related note, i recently heard that it is scientifically proven that what we think of as cute animals have better chance of NOT being extinct than the "uncute" ones. :(

beautiful photos. :)