A Duck For Mr Darwin: Evolutionary Thinking and the Struggle to Exist
Exhibition organised and toured by BALTIC
Sat 10 Oct – Sat 12 Dec 2009
Contributors: Charles Avery, Marcus Coates, Dorothy Cross, Mark Dion, Andrew Dodds, Mark Fairnington, Ben Jeans Houghton, Tania Kovats, Conrad Shawcross
A Duck for Mr. Darwin is a group exhibition of nine contemporary artists exploring evolutionary thinking and the theory of natural selection.
Transforming the Mead Gallery, the exhibition will feature sculpture, drawing, painting, film and installation. Focusing on the legacy of Charles Darwin’s ideas, A Duck for Mr Darwin is informed by the spirit of experimentation which was so distinctive to the time in which he lived.
The mindset of the Victorian naturalist and his contemporaries, their sense of scientific experimentation and genuine wonder at their respective discoveries are shared by several of the artists in the exhibition. Ideas of isolated, closed worlds of meaning and ordered systems recur throughout, as does the location of the Galapagos Islands. Several of the artists visited the Islands and have made work as a result. These remarkable islands were pivotal to the story of the development of Darwin’s theory and have continued to exert a fascination to many.
The art mixes fact and fiction, experimentation and observation, methods of display and personal research. Collectively these artists reveal facets of Darwin’s extraordinary ideas. The exhibition presents work by nine international contemporary artists including a number of new commissions – a large working wormery by Tania Kovats, a museum tableau on the early Victorian explorers by Mark Dion and a new sound work by Andrew Dodds.
The title references the story of an exchange between the young naturalists Alfred Russel Wallace who sent a particular specimen, a domestic duck from the island of Lombok to Darwin in 1857. Within a year a second parcel arrived from the Malay jungle containing Wallace’s short twenty page essay on species variation. This package proved to be the catalyst precipitating the publishing of Darwin’s monumental theory – the book we now know as the Origin of Species.
A Duck for Mr. Darwin has been curated by BALTIC’s Alessandro Vincentelli and devised to coincide with the Darwin 200 programme of celebrations and events.
Afterwards; curated by Sharon Kivland
Etienne Bossut, Pavel Buchler, Juan Cruz, Gareth Fisher, Rodney Graham, Lucy Harrison, Sharon Kivland, Jaspar Joseph-Lester, Selma Makela, Charlie Youle and Bevis Martin, Simon Morris, Sergei Pankejeff, Alexandre Ponomarev, Jean-Jacques Rullier, John Stezaker, Benjamin Swaim, Julie Westerman
A Mead Gallery Exhibition
Sat 25 Apr – Sat 21 Jun 2009
The exhibition also features drawings by Francis Fowler and Francis-Baptiste Haselden and items from the collections of the Freud Museum, London and the University of Warwick.
Curated by the artist Sharon Kivland, this exhibition explores the concept of ‘Nachtraglichkeit’, the term employed by Sigmund Freud to describe the phenomena of ‘deferred action, where impressions, experiences or memory traces gain significance as a result of re-experiencing the event. The term ‘afterwardsness’ was developed by the French psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche, who honed Freud’s concept to address the time structure of trauma – the afterwardsness of unconscious childhood memories.
Kivland’s exhibition articulates Nachtraglichkeit, in the arrangement – or retranscription – of a number of works of art and objects. Pivotal to the exhibition is the painting ‘The Wolfman’ by Sergei Pankejeff, one of Freud’s patients, which belongs to the Freud Museum in London. It depicts Pankejeff’s childhood ‘wolf dream’ of lying in bed and seeing the window open of its own accord to show some white wolves sitting on the walnut tree opposite the window. Freud used this dream to assert the validity of psycho-analysis to examine childhood traumas embedded in the unconscious. The exhibition takes its form around this painting, shifting between what may seem to be landscapes (or their reconstructions), memories (or their rearticulations and representations), and the play between the future, the past and the present in the unconscious.
Sharon Kivland is an artist and writer. She is Reader in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University and Research Associate of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, London.
Hijack Reality, Let 100,000 Kunstvereine Bloom!
A Mead Gallery Exhibition
Sat 10 Jan – Mon 9 Mar 2009
This exhibition had two distinct aspects: the entire contents of Bob and Roberta Smith’s London studio was transported to The Mead and in response to Warwick Arts Centre’s development and expansion plans, Bob and Roberta Smith developed three new Centers for Contemporary Art in the region, operating as a franchise of Bob and Roberta’s successful LCCA (Leytonstone Center for Contemporary Art), established in 2001.