Issuu on Google+

ann-marie tully

WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING 09 June - 03 July 2013


First published May 2013 by Ann-Marie Tully in association with NIROXprojects. Updated October 2013. This catalogue accompanied the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing exhibition, 09 June - 03 July 2013, at NIROXprojects | ARTS ON MAIN | MABONENG PRECINCT | JOHANNESBURG I 249 Fox Street, cnr Main Rd. Opening speaker: Walter Oltmann. Artist’s Walkabout 23 June 2013. +27 72 350 4326. Design, photography, text and editorial by Ann-Marie Tully, in association with Neil Nieuwoudt. http://ann-marietully.blogspot.com/ http://johannesburg.academia.edu/AnnMarieTully www.niroxarts.com


ARTIST STATEMENT Ann-Marie Tully’s art practice and research is concerned with the lives of animals, the relation of the human to the non-human, and the representation of animal beings. The tendency of the human to express the self through the allegorical vehicle of the animal (animal-autobiography)1 is also considered in this visual body of work including oil paintings, textiles and ceramics.

Other works such as the Wolf in sheep’s clothing series (2012-2013), employing textile and painterly elements, speak to the human animal for which clothes provide such a thin veneer. Derrida on occasion muses on his cat’s gaze upon his naked body, alerting him to humanity’s complicity in the uncloaked character of animal being.3 The exhibition, Wolf in sheep’s clothing is staked in this naked terrain.

The Exhibition, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, debuted at NIROXprojects, Arts on Main, Johannesburg, on Sunday the 9th of June 2013, at 12:00pm, and ran untill the 3rd of July 2013. The exhibition also featured an artist’s walkabout.

Derrida, J. 2002. The animal that therefore I am (more to follow). Trans. D. Wills. Critical Inquiry 28(2):402. 2 Lippit, A. M. 1994. Afterthoughts on the animal world. MLN Vol. 109, No. 5, Comparative Literature Issue (December). John Hopkins University Press:89. 3 Derrida, J. 2002. The animal that therefore I am (more to follow). Trans. D. Wills. Critical Inquiry 28(2):373. 1

Philosophically and materially animals have long been the most estranged and disempowered creatures on earth— the Aristotelian and Cartesian theses have proposed nonhuman creatures as little more than automata.2 This derisive philosophy has embedded itself in cultural practices, and has erased the agency of non-human beings. Artworks featured on the exhibition such as the Let sleeping dogs lie series (2011-2013) address this species inequity. While the perspective of the viewer is self-reflexively omniscient (in the manner of a human looking down at a sleeping dog), the sentience and character of the individual animal being is asserted in the considered and idiosyncratic rendering. The sleeping postures of the dogs also ambiguously mimic a death pose. This ‘figuring’ of corporeal frailty represents the artist’s love for her animal companions, who are (for the most part) the subjects of these portraits. In an ironic undertow to this sincerity, the idiomatic title of these works suggests the reduction of animal character into the service of human narrative—a theme revisited in numerous works on the exhibition. Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in sheep’s clothing I, 2012-2013. Gesso and oil on Fabriano, fake fur, dress, cotton thread.. 2500mm x 600mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Let sleeping dogs lie— George (detail), 2011. Gesso and oil on 100% cotton Fabriano. 700mm x 1000mm.


L y canthropic self - portraits The artworks She-wolf (2012), Wolf in sheep’s clothing (2012-13), Running with the hares and hunting with the hounds (2013) belong to a series that investigates lycanthropic self-portraiture. Amongst other mythic sources, these works are inspired by J. M. Coetzee’s fictional animal rights ‘warrior’, Elizabeth Costello’s discussion of the philosopher Thomas Nagal’s contemplation of what it might feel like to be a bat—an absolutely alien being.1 Elizabeth Costello notes that when pressed, human beings can imagine what it may feel like to be dead.2 This stretch of the imagination presents us with the terrifying existential contradiction of being conscious of the most unknown point of our lives: the cessation of life, the end of consciousness.3 Costello concludes, “if we are capable of thinking our own death, why on earth should we not be capable of thinking our way into the life of a bat?”4

These paintings enact an imaginative lycanthropic transformation (becoming animal) in self-portraits of the artist.5 In doing so, three dimensional elements such as fake fur are literally stitched onto the paper, forcing an interrupted, ruptured, and grafted rendering. The awkward pairing of real and representational elements results in a surface tension that gestures to the difficulty inherent in a project that seeks to deterritorialise and deconstruct the Cartesian human. Coetzee, J. M. 2004. The lives of animals: the philosophers and the animals. Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons. London: Vintage:76-77. 2 ibid. 3 ibid. 4 ibid. 5 Deleuze, G & Guattari, F. 1988. Becoming intense, becoming-animal, becoming imper1

ceptible. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Continuum:253.


Ann-Marie Tully, Running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, (detail) 2013. Gesso, oil, faux fur, cotton

on 100% cotton Fabriano. 400mm x 350mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, She-wolf II (detail), 2012. Gesso, oil, faux fur, cotton on 100% cotton Fabriano. 200mm x 400mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Icarus (detail), 2013. Gesso, oil, found fur shawl, cotton on 100% cotton Fabriano. 2300mm x 900mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in sheep’s clothing I, 2012-2013. Gesso and oil on Fabriano, fake fur, dress, cotton thread.. 2500mm x 600mm.


ANIMAL-ANIMETAPHOR The Let sleeping dogs lie- (2011-2013); Curl up and die- (2011-2012); Room to swing a cat- (2013); Fleeced- (2013); Lamb to the slaughter(2013); and Dog-eat-dog (2010-2013) series emerge from consideration of Derrida’s theorisation of the “animetaphor”, an anthropocentric rhetoric that reduces and exploits non-human creatures.1 He further argues for a related neologism, “l’animal autobiographique”: the analogous and aphoristic application
of animal character to the narrative dimension of human identity.2 The Let sleeping dogs lie and Curl up and die series explores the temporality of animal life in reciprocal companion species (human/ animal) relationships and experiences of loss. The agency of animal beings is asserted in these paintings that concentrate on the particularity of individual creatures, as seen through the human perspective. The animals depicted in this series are removed from a recognisable space in order to disrupt the dominant trope of animal representation, where the non-human creature is frequently reduced to an object within a narrative. The ironic titles of these works reference well known idioms that subsume animal characteristics in expressions of human experience; irreducibly trivialising the particularity of animal-beings. I employ these antithetical titles to point to the callous and reductive nature of human perception and language in the face of nonhuman sentience and individual animal redolence.

Lippit A.M. 1998. Magnetic animal: Derrida, wildlife, animetaphor. MLN 113(5) Comparative Literature Issue (December):1113. 2 ibid. 1

Ann-Marie Tully, Let sleeping dogs lie—Jessica (detail), 2012. Gesso and oil on 100% cotton Fabriano. 700mm x 1000mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Let sleeping dogs lie—Maximillion (detail), 2012. Gesso and oil on 100% cotton Fabriano. 700mm x 1000mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Let sleeping dogs lie—Tessa (detail), 2011. Gesso and oil on 100% cotton Fabriano. 700mm x 1000mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Let sleeping dogs lie窶認lying Poppit (detail), 2013. Gesso and oil on 100% cotton Fabriano. 700mm x 1000mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Curl up and die—Joe (detail), 2011. Gesso and oil on 100% cotton Fabriano. 230mm x 300mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Curl up and die—Tabby (detail), 2011. Gesso and oil on 100% cotton Fabriano. 230mm x 300mm.


Works such as Room to swing a cat (2013), Fleeced (2013), and Lamb to the slaughter (2013), specifically address the linguistic reduction of the animal. As they do not depict sleeping animals, the intimacy of human/animal reciprocity, and affection is removed. The Room to swing a cat series, literally (and ironically) depicts the English expression used to describe a small space. This well worn idiom is sardonically employed to comment on the smallness or breadth of a space: ‘there is not even room to swing a cat in here’, or ‘there is ample room to swing a cat in here’. The expression conjures up the image of a swinging cat, drawing on the human conception of cat-like agility; while arousing little or no comprehension of the creature cat; or the trauma and injury that swinging a cat would inflict on the animal. In its cool detachment from the phenomena-cat-in-the-world, this idiom reveals the inherent dismissal of, and violence against non-human creatures that underpins the linguistic and cultural construction of human identity. The falling and swinging cats depicted in the Room to swing a cat series are sourced from an internet search of the expression. The

glut of ‘humorously’ framed photographs of falling and swung cats that emerge is disturbing; given that the photographs suggest (in the main) that the cats were deliberately swung or dropped for the purpose of obtaining the image. The paintings of these floating cat signifiers, suspended in white grounds, seek to arrest the viewers initial amused reaction, in contemplation of the troubling violence expressed in the act, the representation, and the expression. In a similar vein, the Fleeced and Lamb to the slaughter series reference idioms that rhetorically apply the sequestered lives of sheep and lambs to human experiences of victimisation; with little or no regard for the industrialised slaughter of the animals whose names and experiences are ó’offered up’ to enable these expedient expressions.


Ann-Marie Tully, Room to swing a cat II (previous page), and Room to swing a cat III (both details), 2013. Gesso and oil on Fabriano.150mm x 115mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Fleeced VII (detail), 2013. Cotton waste and thread on Fabriano. 430mm x 380mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Fleeced IV (detail), 2013. Cotton waste and thread on Fabriano. 430mm x 380mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Lamb to the slaughter VIII (detail), 2013. Ink on Fabriano.170mm x 250mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Lamb to the slaughter XIII (detail), 2013. Ink on Fabriano. 210mm x 230mm.


The Dog—eat—dog (2010-2013) series draws on narratives and idioms that parallel human culture wilth lupine and other anmial attributes relating to predatorial and maternal instinct, ferociousness and stealthiness. Shakespeare’s Marcus Antonius invokes canine ferocity in preparation to strike against Julius Caesar’s assassins, linking notions of agressive animality to the human practice of war. This aggressive rhetoric also conveniently absolves the ‘civilised’ qualities of human beings from complicity in the atrocities of war:

And Caesar’s spirit, raging for revenge ... Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war That this foul deed shall smell above the earth With carrion men, groaning for burial. 1

William Shakespear’s Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene 1.

Ann-Marie Tully, Dog—eat—dog: centaur patrol, 2012. Gesso and oil on Fabriano.120mm x 195mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Dog—eat—dog: gas mask I (L) & II (L) (details), 2012-2013. Gesso and oil on Fabriano. I: 250mm x 210mm & II: 300mm x 210mm.


the decorative animal The Las Meninas [Ladies in Waiting] series (2010-2012) of cobalt oxide-painted ceramic frog sculptures further reflects on the obscuration of animal beings in human visual culture. The choice of frogs as an “animal-ground” to paint onto, is informed by human indifference and repulsion towards reptilian creatures; as well as the association of frogs with catastrophic biblical plagues, and sorcery. The frog sculpture that the works are based on is a decorative object created by my father, and is striking in its ‘benevolent’ anthropomorphic characteristics; considering the generally malign perception of frogs. This domestication of the animal is a phenomenon associated with ornamental and illustrative representations of animals; serving to obscure the real creature. The slip-casting seams are not removed from the sculptural forms, thereby interrupting a ‘smooth’ transition from the animal-in-the-world into the realm of human consumption. The decorative cobalt-painting on the frog-surfaces references the Willow, Oriental and Delft ceramic traditions, that frequently employ nature motifs. Diego VelàÃåàázquez’s Las Meninas (1656) serves as a motif in this context. Pablo Picasso’s association of the infanta and her maids with paintings he produced of pigeons is also referenced. These pigeon-maids are represented on the front of the frog sculptures, in dialogue with the VelàÃåàázquez figures (depicted on the rear), pointing to the fluid transfer of human narrative onto the animal vehicle. The transposition of VelàÃåàázquez’s human-maids into Picasso’s pigeon-maids, and now into frog-maids enacts the mutability of the human subjugation and assimilation of difference. The Furborough series (2013) of ceramic frog sculptures shares this intent, and employs a similar range of iconography, also including elements drawn from Gainsborough’s oeuvre. Of particular interest are Gainsborough’s artworks that position the human as a master over the “natural world”, such as Mr and Mrs Andrews (1750). Ann-Marie Tully, Las Meninas II (front view), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror.(H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Las Meninas II (back view detail), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror.(H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Las Meninas III (back view), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror.(H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Las Meninas III (back view detail), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror.(H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Las Meninas IV (front view), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror.(H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Las Meninas IV (back view), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror.(H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Furbourough: Lord of the plains and domestic godesses (back & side views), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror, faux fur. (H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Furbo urough: Lord of the plains and d omestic godesses (f ront & side views), 2013. Cera mic, cobalt mirror, faux oxide, fur. (H) 120 mm x (W) 130mm x (D ) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Furbourough: Mrs Siddons and the infanta of the hunt (front views), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror, faux fur. (H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Furbourough: Mrs Siddons and the infanta of the hunt (front views), 2013. Ceramic, cobalt oxide, mirror, faux fur. (H) 120mm x (W) 130mm x (D) 100mm.


I nstallation views

Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) installation view: of (L-R), Wolf in sheep’s clothing (2012-2013), and Icarus (2013).


Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) installation view: of (L-R), Wolf in sheep’s clothing (2012-2013), Shewolf II (2012), Icarus (2013), and Fleeced (2013).


Ann-Marie Tully, (L-R), Wolf in sheep’s clothing (2012-2013), and Fleeced (2013).


Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) installation view: Icarus (2013).


Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) installation view.


Ann-Marie Tully, Metamorphoses (L-R): Judas goat, Lion boy, Leda and the swan, 2013. Ink and cotton on paper.


Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) installation view.


Ann-Marie Tully, Dumb valet, 2013. Wood furniture, fox fur shawl, mirror. dimensions variable.


Ann-Marie Tully, Brak I, 2013. Gesso and oil on Fabriano. 1500mm x 1500mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) installation view: of (R-L), Curl up and die (2011), Let sleeping dogs lie - Jessica (2012), Brak (2013).


Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) installation view: of (L-R), Curl up and die (2011), Las Meninas IV (2013), She wolf I (2012). Shewolf I (detail) (R). Gesso, oil, faux fur, and cotton on Fabrian o. 700mm x 1000mm.


Ann-Marie Tully, Room to Ann-Marie Tully, Lamb to the slaughter XIII, 2013. Ink on Fabriano, cotton waste. 210mm

x 220mm.

swing a cat I-III installation

view, 2013. Gesso and oil

on Fabriano.150mm x 11

5mm.


An n

-M a co rie Tu ba lt o lly, L xid as M e, m e irro nina r.(H s IV )1 ( 20 2013 mm ) i x (W nsta ) 1 llatio 30 n mm view x (D ). C ) 1 eram 00 mm ic, .

Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) installation view: of (L-R), Las Meninas IV (2013), Dog-eat-dog (2013), Lamb to the slaughter (2013).


), Lamb to t-dog (2013 a -e g o D ), urborough f (L-R sa (2011), F tion view: o s e lla -T ta s lie in s ) g 3 o 01 t sleeping d Clothing (2 in Sheep’s x (2012), Le a lf M o W , lie lly s u g T Ann-Marie sleeping do (2013), Let r te h g u la s the (2013).


lothing Wolf in Sheep’s C Ann-Marie Tully, (2013). and Dog-eat-dog

(2013) installa

), Let sleeping tion view: of (L-R

dogs lie - George

(2011),


Ann-Marie Tully, Dog-eat-dog (2013) series. Gesso and oil on Fabriano.


An

n-

ri Ma

eT

, ully

Fu

g

rou

u rbo

la

tal

ns hi

n tio

w

vie

1

(20

m

era

C 3).

ic,

ba

co

,

ide

x lt o

a

r, f

rro mi

ur

f ux

o

u

tiq

n na

t.

is ek


Ann-Marie Tully, Room to swing a cat IV-VIII (2013) stairwell installation view. Gesso and oil on Fabriano.150mm x 115mm.


on view.

e installati

Tully, Ann-Marie

eep’s

Wolf in Sh

zzanin 2013) me ( g in th lo C


ar ie

-M

An n

olf

,W

lly

Tu

in Sh p’s

ee

3)

g( 20 1

hin

ot

Cl

in do stal gs lat lie ion - F vie lyi w: ng po Let pp sle it ( ep 20 ing 13 ).

ine

an

zz

me


Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013) mezzanine installation view: of (L-R), Las Meninas II & III (2013), Let sleeping dogs lie - Jessica (2012), and Lamb to the slaughter (2013) series.


Ann-Marie Tully, Lamb to the slaughter IV, 2013. Indian ink on Fabriano. 210mm x 220mm.


) installation view: of (R-L), Dumb valet (201 3), Fleeced (2013), Icarus (2013).

Ann-Marie Tully, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2013


BIOGRAPHY Ann-Marie Tully is an artist, curator and writer who obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2003, receiving a distinction for her thesis. She is currently a Research Associate at the Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design, at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg. Ann-Marie has exhibited widely and is represented in local and international collections. She practices as a painter, also working with textiles, ceramics and filmic mediums (having worked as a cinematographer). Ann-Marie has staged two previous solo exhibitions:Thimble Narratives (2003) at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, and Non Facture (2007) at Gordart Gallery. Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing at NIROXprojects (2013), represents a third solo exhibition. Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing travels to the North West University Galleries (2014) and the Oliewenhuis Museum in Bloemfontein (2015). As a curator her most recent undertakings are the Pointure (2012) exhibition at the University of Johannesburg Gallery; and the Facing the Climate (2012-2013) exhibitions in association with the Swedish Institute and the Swedish Embassy of South Africa (Michaelis Galleries, NIROXprojects and the Oliewenhuis Museum). The Pointure exhibition was accompanied by a colloquium, convened by the Research Centre, Visual Identities in Art and Design, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg; followed by scholarly publications. Prior to this Ann-Marie curated the Urban Animal (2009) exhibition at the ABSA Gallery. Ann-Marie’s art-making and research is concerned with the rhetorical and reductive representation of non-human creatures, and the disparate interface between human ‘culture’ and the ‘natural world’. Themes of mortality, the indexical character of things-in-the-world and photographic media, and interstitial art, design and visual culture practices are also themes revisited in her work. Following page: Ann-Marie Tully, Cat of nine lives (detail), 2012. Found fur object, cotton waste, wood. 230mm x 230mm.


Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is dedicated to my beloved animal companions, past and present, who are not objects.



Wolf in Sheep's Clothing