Saturday, October 18, 2008

Kitty Wales (Jenny's Pick)

Kitty Wales is a contemporary sculptor who focuses on the alterations of an animal’s environment. She first explores the natural environment in which the animal lives and then proceeds to change it through sculpture. Her work produces the idea that humans and animals are united. By changing the space around the animal and using material that “is salvaged from domesticated life” (Kitty Wales, artist statement) Wales is perhaps presenting the insertion of society upon living creatures and disrupting their natural self. Her Canis Ex Machina shows a domesticated dog in control of a machine that unstitches a man-made sweater which ultimately becomes the fur of a dog that repeatedly gets cloned.

I am drawn to Wales’ work in that the parts she uses to create these sculptures suggest both people and animals are linked. While we are a different species we are all still mammals. In Canis Ex Machina I am fascinated by how the dog is in charge of a man-made object and how it becomes a part of him (through reproduction). Wales works with the “anxieties about genetic manipulation and animal breeding” (Kitty Wales, Canis Ex Machina). People have power over animals and will use it to disrupt their natural way of living. This piece seems to show how far animal breeding can get, to the point where the animals themselves are consumed with societies expectations. They grow with a combination of natural and of human traits “that are both menacing and playful” (Kitty Wales, Canis Ex Machina).

Wales’ work is similar to Oliver Herring (Melissa’s Pick) in that his sculptures “[progress] towards a finale that is unexpected or unpredictable…and liberate participants to explore aspects of their personalities” (Herring biography, Art21). This relates to Wales in that her model dogs are exhibiting “forced” human personalities and she is “interested in connecting the viewer to an unexpected place” (Kitty Wales, artist statement). Corrupting natural order through replication and demonstrating a mix of traits allows the viewer and animal to be linked. Herring’s photo-sculptures also relate because the material correlates to the subject. His human photographs represent the person while Wales’ man-made objects also make up the animal. Wales uses “broken appliance parts” (artist statement) in pieces like Pine Sharks and machines with sweaters in Canis Ex Machina and Dog Factory.

Kitty Wales’ homepage:
Sculpture park:

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