For centuries, man has been interested in the extraordinary animals that roam the earth. To mark the 75th anniversary of DierenPark Amersfoort, Kunsthal KAdE will present the exhibition "Miraculous Beings" from June 3 to September 3.
'A living plastic Christmas tree, an AI dragonfly: 'Miraculous Beings' at Kunsthal KAdE shows poignantly how people regard other animals.' ●●●● (NRC)
On Marvellous Things
Jordan Herregraven, Paul van der Eerden and Romy Muijrers
Since ancient times, scientific research has been conducted on animals based on the need to make sense of these mysterious creatures. For example, the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote full of wonder about the natural world and spent much time observing, studying and ranking animals. On Marvellous Things is a collection of anecdotes about the natural world, traditionally attributed to Aristotle, but probably written down by imitators. Some of these texts are based on rational observations; others stem from mythical stories and rumors about the still mysterious, magical animal kingdom.
Artists Jordan Herregraven, Paul van der Eerden and Romy Muijrers respond with sculptures and drawings to cryptic descriptions such as: "It is said that in Byzantium the hedgehogs can distinguish when the spirit blows from the north and from the south, and promptly change their burrows; when the south wind blows [...].
Prints from the collection of the Rijksmuseum
Starting in the 15th century, many drawings were made of then unknown animals that explorers and the first settlers encountered in other parts of the world. But all "hearsay. They told of wondrous "wild" animals with tusks, a large horn on the nose, fearsome claws or an incredibly long neck. A completely new world that captured the imagination enormously and led to drawings that were sometimes quite close, but often full of strange fantasies. One of the cabinets in the exhibition features a selection of old prints from the Rijksmuseum's collection of these imaginations.
'Very beautiful and varied exhibition! Old, new, abstract, digital. Something for everyone. I will visit again!'
The Swiss Conrad Gessner (1516-1565) is considered one of the founders of zoology because of his work Historiae animalium. For more than two hundred years it defined the image people had of animals that were strange to them. The woodcuts range from quite faithful to interpretations of animals, including fantasy animals such as the unicorn.
Zoos, cabinets of curiosities and dioramas
Dioramas: Daniel Dmyszewicz, Jacco Olivier and Mette Sterre
Around the 16th and 17th centuries, animals were actually brought to Europe from other continents. In menageries, princes and wealthy individuals kept exotic species of animals in the gardens of their palaces. Some artists there were given the opportunity to draw from observation. At the end of the 18th century, scientific research on animals revived and the first public zoos emerged in Europe. These zoos, like the menageries, cabinets of curiosities and royal collections, were the result of European man's desire for expansion. The "foreign" came closer and closer. And with it the curiosity for the unknown, the wondrous and the need to know and own animals. In natural history museums, dioramas attempt to show the animal in its own biotope. For the exhibition, artists Daniel Dmyszewicz, Jacco Olivier and Mette Sterre create their own version of a contemporary diorama.
'The exhibition Wonderful Beings focuses not on knowledge, but on our historical, present and future perceptions of animals. Through a diverse plethora of artists, there is something for everyone. (Bionews)
Relationship human and animal
Annabelle Binnerts, Tuomas A. Laitinen, Philip Emde, Amalia Pica, Philip Ullman and Greta Alfaro
Since the 20th century, anyone can view almost any animal in detail in zoos, where, fortunately, more and more attention is now paid to animal welfare. We discover more and more: how the animals live and communicate, in which they resemble us and in which they do not. Are the old hierarchies, in which humans are dominant, still tenable? How do animals actually look at humans and how do they communicate among themselves and with us? What limitations do we as human animals encounter in our attempts to relate to and understand other beings?
In one of the galleries, artists explore the relationship between humans and animals: Greta Alfaro shows a still life with natural forces that transcend our human frameworks, Annabelle Binnerts explores the imagery of animals in narratives, Philip Emde creates works about the stuffed animals of our childhood, Amalia Pica researches communication with and between great apes, Philip Ullman creates 3D animations with hybrid creatures and Tuomas A. Laitinen explores the possibilities in communication between humans and octopuses in his sculptures and videos.
The film room features a film by Mircea Cantor, which shows a heightened state of readiness during an encounter between two natural enemies. What does the tension, palpable in space, say about our role in relation to animals?
'We are fascinated by animals, Wonderful Beings shows, but rarely see them as equals.' (Volkskrant)
Sofia Crespo and Katya Novitskova
We are inundated with online images and videos of animals, new technologies allow us to study animals closer than ever, and computer-generated images are becoming increasingly realistic. At the same time, the reality of the loss of animals and their native environments threatens to escape our fleeting gaze. In what ways can we create awareness for and engagement with animals? Where does wonder lie today? But also: what responsibilities do we as humans have to animals? In the Great Hall, Sofia Crespo pays attention to animal species threatened with extinction through a room-filling video installation with digitally generated visualizations. Katja Novitskova shows a selection of life-size cut-outs from her series Approximations, in which she reflects on the impact of the abundance of digital images around us and the algorithms beneath them that color our perceptions.
'What another unique exhibition. I also found the historical drawings from the 16th century fascinating. Nice to know what stories/myths already existed in ancient Greece. The video installation is really wonderful. Hope it continues to spread. So important to pay attention to (the extinction of) our animals!'
Works of art in DierenPark Amersfoort
Gijs Assmann, Tom Claassen, Sander van Noort, Sharon Van Overmeiren, Pip Passchier, Henk Visch and Müge Yilmaz
In addition to the exhibition at Kunsthal KAdE, a number of artists have been invited to create new works for the animal enclosures at DierenPark Amersfoort. This could be a work that challenges visitors to look at the zoo environment with a new perspective, but also works that are an addition for the animals themselves with which they can interact, such as a play object or feeding area. Gijs Assmann, Sander van Noort, Sharon Van Overmeiren, Pip Passchier and Müge Yilmaz will create a work near the tigers, giraffes, turtles, owls, ring-tailed lemurs and vultures. Existing sculptures by Tom Claassen and Henk Visch will be shown with the prairie dogs and elephants.
'Wonderbaarlijke Wezens' will be on display at Kunsthal KAdE in Amersfoort from June 3 through September 3.
Participating artists Kunsthal KAdE
Greta Alfaro (ES) | Annabelle Binnerts (NL) | Mircea Cantor (RO) | Daniel Dmyszewicz (NL) | Sofia Crespo (IT/AR) | Paul van der Eerden (NL) | Philip Emde (DE) | Jordan Herregraven (NL/US) | Tuomas A. Laitinen (FI) | Romy Muijrers (NL) | Katja Novitskova (EE) | Jacco Olivier (NL) | Amalia Pica (AR) | Mette Sterre (NL) | Philip Ullman (SE) | Anne de Vries (NL)
Participating artists Dierenpark Amersfoort
Gijs Assmann (NL) | Tom Claassen (NL) | Sander van Noort (NL) | Sharon Van Overmeiren (BE) | Pip Passchier (NL) | Henk Visch (NL) | Müge Yilmaz (TR)
Other exhibitions around animals in Amersfoort
Because of the 75th anniversary of DierenPark Amersfoort, Mondrian House and Museum Flehite also have exhibitions in which animals play the leading role.
Mondrian House: Birds & Fish, March 10 through Sept. 17, 2023
Museum Flehite: Art & Zoo, July 8 to November 19, 2023
For more information about DierenPark Amersfoort, visit their site.