Agnes Janich

Review 6

All Creatures Great And Small

Polish Radio Online

Dec 2009


The exhibition develops themes initiated in the exhibition "Hot/Cold - Summer Loving" shown in Zachęta in 2007 that presented different forms of love, including the love humans feel for animals. The forthcoming exhibition concentrates only on the problem of the world of animals, exploring artists' diverse takes on this problem and the range of ways of visualizing it in art. The point of entry for the exhibition is the desire to overcome the dogmatic anthropocentrism that places the human in the centre of the world as a privileged species of the highest ontological status.


This standpoint seems to dominate modern science, its consequence being the perception of other species/fors of life as objects needy of man-given rights. The theory of evolution from Darwin's On the Origin of Man ( this year marks the 150th anniversary of its publishing and the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin ) placed man as the highest species of a different hierarchy, but not as a super-animal - rather, one of the species of nature, obeying her laws. In 1872 Darwin published On human and animal emotions, in which he described their world through emotions thus far attributed to people. This revolutionary attitude pictured humans and animals as partners, not Others.


Contemporary science is by some described as encountering the Other only at meals

( animals are placed as all the other social Others ). Nevertheless, since the 60s, an outpour of books, texts and essays on animals ( perhaps influenced by ecology and other revolutionary ideas ) shows a new relation to the non-human world, new philosophical and ethical questions.


Since radical changes in art, also dating back to the 60s, the relationship between artists and animals has evolved. Works in this show visualize different aspects of the problem: observation, looking, touching, possessing, playing with and forcing animals into ghettoes called zoological gardens. Difficult topics, such as trading animals, hurting them, consuming their bodies. Many works refer to the symbol place of animals in visual culture, marginalized by civilization's progress. In others, animal interactions are subject of experiments. In others still, they serve as actors in formal artistic experiments. We can observe the human-animal relation through the problems of acting as an animal and becoming an animal. While the show presents the animal world from a human perspective ( we may know no other ), it also portrays the human world in its relation to the animal one.


Artists in the exibition: Marina Abramovic, Vito Acconci, Pilar Albaracin, Francis Alys, Dan Attoe, Roger Ballen, Kuba Bąkowski, Joseph Beuys, Bogna Burska, Mircea Cantor, David Claerbout, Marcus Coates, Anna Dębska, Mark Dion, Valie Export, Angus Fairhurst, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Peter Friedl, Leszek Golec & Tatiana Czekalska, Douglas Gordon, Johan Grimonprez, Elżbieta Janczak-Wałaszek, Christian Jankowski, Agnes Janich, Marina Kappos, Mike Kelley, Kristof Kintera, Grzegorz Kowalski, Katarzyna Kozyra, Igor Krenz, Natalia LL, Dominik Lejman, Marcin Maciejowski, Artur Malewski, Chris Marker, Angelika Markul, Ciprian Muresan, Yach Paszkiewicz, Włodzimierz Pawlak, Elisa Pône, Marc Quinn, Józef Robakowski, Zygmunt Rytka, Anri Sala, Alain Séchas, Ene-Liis Semper, Deborah Sengl, Carolee Schneemann, Rudolf Schwarzkogler, Roman Signer, Dusan Skala, Gabrielle Stellbaum, Eric Swenson, Javier Téllez, Gabriela Vanga, Minette Vári, Bill Viola, Martin Walde, Marek Wasilewski, Boyd Webb, William Wegman, Paweł Wieckowiak, The Wooster Group, Wunderteam, Erwin Wurm.


Curator: Maria Brewińska.

© 2003 - 2018 Agnes Janich