This Summer Turner Contemporary presents Animals & Us, a major exhibition exploring artists’ reflections on the relationship between humans and other animals.
The exhibition focuses on contemporary and 20th century art with select historical artworks, new works and commissions.
It comes at a time when around 38% of all known species are on the verge of extinction. With the recent death of Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros, Animals & Us is a re-examination by some 40 artists of how humans co-exist and connect with other living species.
Installed across all Turner Contemporary’s first floor galleries, Animals & Us encompasses a wide range of media, from painting and sculpture to video and installation. It draws on subjects from biology and evolution, to anthropology and technology,
Historical objects such as Egyptian artefacts and a Medieval Christian bestiary examine the ways animals symbolise people, alongside contemporary works by Laura Ford and Raqib Shaw looking at anthropomorphism, myth, fable and human-animal hybrids.
Mishka Henner’s aerial photographs of Texan cattle feedlots display disconnection from the food humans eat, and Candida Hӧfer’s photographic series Zoologischer Garten (1990 – 1999) shows zoo animals in their artificial environments.
The close bond with pets is reflected by artists such as Andy Warhol, Tracey Emin and William Wegman, whose own pets have been an inspiration for their work.
I like America and America Likes Me (1974) is the result of Joseph Beuys spending three days in a room with a wild coyote. A newly commissioned sculpture by Stephanie Quayle, in partnership with Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury, encourages visitors to look into the eyes of a troop of chimpanzees taking over the gallery.
Animal intelligence and creativity is celebrated in Andy Holden and Peter Holden’s homage to the skill of the bower bird, while Laura Gustafsson and Terike Haapoja present a Museum of Nonhumanity.
Animals & Us opens at Turner Contemporary on Friday, May 25 and runs until September 30