Public Video Projections

Since 2014 I’ve installed over 100 public video projections of Thirty Times a Minute in Chicago, Portland, Detroit, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, New York, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Toronto, Rochester, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Reykjavik, Iceland and more. In the video dozens of captive elephants are caught in unending cycles of movement, bearing the weight of an unnatural existence in their small enclosures.

Installing Thirty Times a Minute as a large public video projection generates a layering of witness: the (implied) spectators at the zoo, coupled with viewers on the street. Passers-by are usually surprised by the video projection they encounter. With this project I am considering the potential impact interference within the public sphere can have. The effect is unmeasurable, yet holding a belief that an effect exists is an important aspect of the project for me.

All of my hours watching elephants, and watching people watch elephants, has changed me. It has led me to think about the universality of suffering, avenues toward compassion, and the wish for the well-being of all living things. The video reveals their distress, power, and grace. The public installations trigger conversations between strangers—talking about isolation and friendship and what is humane. Through these conversations, incremental or momentary connectedness occurs. The public projections have grown into an offering: honoring the place of projection, the spectators that stop to watch, and the elephants themselves.

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Since 1997 I've been making photographs, and more recently, videos and installations, that examine incongruities and power imbalance in the relationships humans have with other animals; we love and revere them, and yet we participate in practices in which they are eaten, worn, or caged. My more recent work sheds light on the abnormal and neurotic behaviors of captive large mammals in order to bring attention to the implicit values of society as a whole, particularly those that perpetuate power imbalance and the tyranny of artifice. I explore the ways in which animals on display function as symbols of persistent colonial thinking, a striving for human domination over nature has been normalized, and consumption masks as curiosity. Animals have been collected and held as objects of fascination throughout history, with modern zoos tracing back to the middle ages as menageries. This video projection series focuses on the complexities of keeping animals in captivity and raises questions about what it means to participate as a spectator of animals.

Projecting Thirty Times a Minute, 2014 - 2018


 

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