May 27, 2012 - Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal - Zoo
May 27, 2012


David Altmejd, “Le spectre et la main,” 2012.
Plexiglas, coconut shells, epoxy clay, epoxy resin,
thread, resin, metal wire, horse hair, acrylic,
124 1/4 x 269 x 98 inches.*

May 24–September 3, 2012

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal 
185 Sainte-Catherine Ouest
(corner Jeanne-Mance)
Montréal, Québec H2X 3X5

Zoo at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Twenty artists delve into the relationship between humans and animals
Some fifty works that are bound to spark a highly topical discussion of the human-animal relationship will be in the spotlight in Zoo, the summer show at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, set to run from May 24 to September 3. This group exhibition contains pieces by twenty Québec, Canadian, and international artists. Focusing on zoos as a mode of portraying the animal kingdom and living beings, it features works that will prompt an examination of the marked interest in animals seen in the contemporary art of the past few years. It also fits in with recent debates about natural history and our relationship to a world that has undergone unprecedented ecological and geopolitical change. Of particular note: in a major Canadian premiere, the work Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be presented at the MAC for this occasion.

Through their works, the artists explore the tremendous variety of connections that exist between humans and animals, and broach the issue within a very broad perspective. Some artists use this relationship to explore cultural representations, reinterpret anthropological stereotypes or highlight the notion—still very commonly held—of the primacy of humankind. Others focus on the collection, classification, and exhibition methods that are characteristic of both museums and zoos, which share a similar way of understanding and organizing the world. Yet other artists employ spaces or metaphors that open up to other dualities or areas of conflict. Today, we cannot speak of animals, or of animality, without speaking of our relationship to them and, more broadly, our relationship to the Other.

Multiple approaches to the same theme: the artists in Zoo
The artists taking part in Zoo are: Ai Weiwei, David Altmejd, Shary Boyle, Mark Dion, Nathalie Djurberg, Jason Dodge, Trevor Gould, Renée Green, Rachel Harrison, Mona Hatoum, Pierre Huyghe, Matthew Day Jackson, Brian Jungen, Liz Magor, Ugo Rondinone, Kevin Schmidt, David Shrigley, Kiki Smith, Haim Steinbach, and Jana Sterbak.

Among the major works—some of them brand-new—showcased in Zoo:
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold (2010) by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, is a remarkable work being shown here for the first time in Canada. It is a reinterpretation of the twelve bronze animal heads, representing the traditional Chinese zodiac, that used to adorn the famous water clock at the imperial gardens of Yuanming Yuan in Beijing.

Produced specially for the exhibition Zoo, David Altmejd’s Le Spectre et la Main (2012) takes up elements typically used by this artist and applies them like a leitmotiv. The work suggests a vivarium of surprising size that interweaves a multitude of threads introducing the idea of movement and perpetual metamorphosis.

Also worthy of mention is a large-scale installation by Trevor Gould, titled God’s Window, created specifically for the Musée Sculpture Garden, where it has been built onto the fountain. The sculpture features the monkey figure that often appears in the artist’s work, and its structure speaks to the surrounding architecture.

Finally, Chair Apollinaire, by Jana Sterbak, is a “club” chair made of meat. Its presentation at the MAC is a Canadian premiere.

The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is launching a major publication for the exhibition. This lavishly illustrated, 240-page catalogue, also titled Zoo, contains an introduction by the show’s curators, Marie Fraser and François LeTourneux, texts presenting each of the artists, and a typology describing the relationship between humans and animals as reflected in natural history, philosophy, fiction, and science.

Source and information
Wanda Palma, MACM
Head of Public Relations
T 514 847 6232

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*Image above:
David Altmejd, Le spectre et la main, 2012. Plexiglas, coconut shells, epoxy clay, epoxy resin, thread, resin, metal wire, horse hair, acrylic, 124 1/4 x 269 x 98 inches.*
Private collection, Montréal. Photo: Guy L’Heureux.

Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal
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