Torea Frey

Editor, writer, photographer, observer on the street.

Animals: Outside or in?

I've recently happened upon a few mentions of Colleen Plumb's Animals Are Outside Today, which is both a book and an exhibition at Jen Bekman Gallery, which runs through April 24, 2011.

Although same might find it scattered stylistically, I really liked the breadth of images presented. Some of the shots are impressionistic; in one that looks almost like a watercolor (Albrecht and Corwin, Canyon Deer, 2000), two horses stand before a field of pastels. Others are photo-realistic, but obfuscate the focus on the animal that is the explicit subject of her work – just two mountainous humps signify the subject in Horseback, 1999.

From the artist's statement:

 

Contradictions define our relationships with animals. We love and admire them; we are entertained and fascinated by them ... At the same time, we eat, wear and cage them with seeming indifference, consuming them, and images of them, in countless ways.

Our connection to animals today is often developed through assimilation and appropriation; we absorb them into our lives, yet we no longer know of their origin. Most people are cut off from the steps involved in their processing or acquisition, shielded from witnessing their death or decay. This work moves within these contradictions, always questioning if the notion of the sacred, and the primal connection to Nature that animals convey and inspire, will survive alongside our evolution.

 

(Above: Nungesser Elephant, 2010.)