Ülimalt armas kooselu (Extremely Cute Cohabitation)

07 juin / 31 juillet 2021

Artists: Jean Arnaud, Damien Beyrouthy, Flo Kasearu

Curator: Sara Bédard-Goulet

At a time of intense human land use and destruction of habitats, as we are experiencing the sixth mass extinction of species, human-animal cohabitation raises attention. Although domestication has put humans in close contact with animals, it has not prompted a significantly operational sharing of habitats. 

In this exhibition, human-animal interaction is tackled from the perspective of the occupation of space. Interrogating territorial distribution between humans and animals raises awareness, for instance, to the status of pets, who are equally affected by social media and internet. 

In She Was Called Petra, Damien Beyrouthy addresses the mediation of human-animal companionship by technology by presenting a captive parrot interacting with her human as well as with a virtual assistant. While Petra expresses herself by ordering food and objects online, which we can observe on the floor, live video streams show her original habitat in Africa. In Did You Do That?, Flo Kasearu focuses on how humans address pets as these pets have seemingly intervened in the space where they were left. The discomforting collage of shaming monologues reverses to the addressers and questions the tenor of the relationship between humans and animals. Both works play on accumulation to reveal the absurd situation in which humans and animals can be trapped. Territorial distribution between humans and animals can also involve wild animals, equally affected by human land use, which can easily cause their extinction. In Rhinocerotopia, Jean Arnaud and François Landriot present industrial or suburban landscapes in which a toy rhinoceros seems lost and disconnected from its surroundings. Displayed on a revolving platform, the rhinoceros becomes a demonstration model that shows a fascinated and distant relationship that humans maintain towards animals.

By involving humans and animals in space, the three works also reflect on responsibility, which is inevitably involved when it comes to sharing and cohabitation. While the voices name the outwardly guilty party in Did You Do That?, there is room for the spectator to imagine who that can be and of what crime it is accused of. Habitat destruction is key to both She Was Called Petra and Rhinocerotopia but the two works also point out the unavoidable hybridity of ecosystems and the necessary debate that they engage. The three works provide powerful images of animal lives as singular lived experiences, creating significance and attracting attention to the specific dialogue required with each individual. Through this exhibition, we can open up to the multiple human and animal ways of being and thus multiply the inhabitable worlds.

Jean Arnaud & François LandriotRhinocerotopia, 2010. Video with sound (19 min).

Through a circular and haunting motion, Rhinocerotopia underlines the precariousness of the living beings regarding the human land use planning. The rhinoceros has become a toy. The figure inlay in an unsuitable environment is visible; it rotates endlessly on itself in vacant or desolate places. On the edge of natural, industrial and suburban landscapes, the animal seems condemned to turn constantly into something else to survive, while it is already only an image of itself.