Remembering Animals: Rituals, Artifacts and Narratives

Julia Schlosser, curator


In this exhibition, we ask viewers to experience potentially difficult images of animals who have died, and artworks made from their bodies. Remembering Animals hopes to create an intimate space where we can consider these artworks. Rather than turn away, we invite you to “bear witness” for a moment, and create an empathetic conduit with a non-human animal.

This exhibition looks at the ways contemporary artists contemplate, investigate and respond to different aspects of animal death. The animals depicted in the images and included as parts of the sculptural objects have died in various ways. None of the animals represented in this show were killed by the artists. Some represent species that have perished in reaction to overarching environmental issues. Other animal bodies were encountered incidentally as the artists moved through the world during their daily activities, and still others were sought out by the artists as part of their artistic practice. Some of the images represent the bodies of deceased animals known to the artist (or viewer) while these animals were alive, and other animals, whose deaths are mourned in the context of cultural rituals, are documented and observed by the artist from a sociological perspective. The majority of the artists included in this exhibition have devoted significant portions of their highly respected artistic careers to the exploration of the myriad issues surrounding human-animal relationships and the depiction of animals in contemporary art, and the remainder have created singular but highly impactful series of works concerning animals. An examination of these artists’ work allows one to acknowledge animal death by tracing the evolution of a “visual language of loss.”