An examination by over 40 artists of how humans coexist and connect with other living species.
Since prehistory, humans have explored their relationship with animals through art. At a time when around 38% of all known species are on the verge of extinction, this exhibition asks questions about how we relate to or differentiate ourselves from other living beings through a wide range of media in contemporary and 20th-century art and select historical artworks.
Objects such as Egyptian artefacts and a Medieval Christian bestiary probe the ways we have used animals to symbolise ourselves and make sense of the world, alongside contemporary works by Laura Ford and Raqib Shaw playing with anthropomorphism, myth, fable and human-animal hybrids. Our closeness and distance from animals are explored in pieces like Mishka Henner’s aerial photographs of Texan cattle feed lots that visualise our disconnection from the food we eat. The close bond with our pets is reflected by artists such as Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin and William Wegman, whose own pets have been an inspiration for their work.
Many of the artists are attempting to connect with animals, to understand something of their internal mental lives. I like America and America Likes Me (1974) sees Joseph Beuys spend three days in a room with a wild coyote, and a newly commissioned sculpture by Stephanie Quayle encourages visitors to look into the eyes of a troop of chimpanzees taking over the gallery.
Thanks to hundreds of Art Happens funders, Turner Contemporary will also be extending their Animals & Us exhibition out beyond the gallery this summer, encouraging everyone to join the conversation. Look out for 'Paula the Polar Bear', a life-sized puppet, roaming the streets of Margate for five weeks on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from Thursday 26 July. See the full dates and meet Paula for yourself.