Animals’ was a group exhibition that included artworks by seventeen acclaimed international contemporary artists from Europe and America from 24 Jun – 11 Sep 2004. The works in the exhibition all explore the issue of how the otherness of animals opens up new ways of thinking. Most of the works were new or previously unseen in the UK, with a number made especially for this exhibition. Artists exhibiting include Lothar Baumgarten, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Katharina Fritsch, Ellen Gallagher, John Isaacs, Marina Kappos, Mike Kelley, Oswaldo Macià, Jean-Luc Mylayne, Bruce Nauman, João Onofre, Marjetica Potr, Bojan arevi, Kiki Smith, Diana Thater, Rosemarie Trockel and Bill Viola. The works in the exhibition questioned the common ways we understand animals, and rather than objectifying or anthropomorphising them, present them as beings in their own right, often incomprehensible and mysterious. In Marina Kappos’s video, ‘Beast’, a domestic cat is shown larger than life-size in close-up from below, snarling at some unseen threat. Drawing attention to the similarities and differences between humans and animals the viewers’ everyday notions of human identity are challenged. Looking at animals in this way also encourages the viewer to acknowledge different ways of perceiving the world. Complex use of language differentiates humans from animals, and these works bring a focus to other methods of communication that have tended to be neglected.
The newly founded gallery Haunch of Venison inaugurates its opening with an exhibition by internationally acclaimed sculptor Rachel Whiteread. The exhibition and accompanying publication feature Whiteread’s newest work, Untitled (Domestic), a massive sculpture cast from the fire escape staircases of Haunch of Venison’s premises–a 3-storey building constructed in the late 18th century that was originally the home of Admiral Lord Nelson. Reincarnating the staircase in its negative form, the imposing white sculpture invokes the building’s past while reflecting the artist’s interest in the formal and purely architectural qualities of sculpture. This inaugural publication features installation views of the exhibition, including additional work dating from 1995 to the present day, as well as two amply illustrated essays and a complete bibliography. The first text considers Whiteread’s immense public commissions in relation to their environment; the second outlines the history and techniques involved in creating the cast staircase sculptures.
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