Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009
single-channel digital video, colour, sound, 23min 52s
23 min 52s
For Hayden Fowler, one motivation for his interdisciplinary practice is a critique of contemporary Western society. Fowler investigates our interactions with the natural world and how we define ourselves with regard to nature. He is interested in the nexus between civilisation and the domestication of animals, focusing on aspects such as interdependency and adaptation.
The two video works, Goat Odyssey and White Australia both feature white animals in carefully constructed austere tableaux. In White Australia, white rats scuttle through two holes in a similarly tiled interior space. Talking about the work, Fowler describes it as his response to what he saw as the dangerously apathetic nature of dominant Australian culture during ‘the height of the Howard years’. Inspired by the unthinking mass movements of 9-5 commuters at a busy train station, the artist presents his rats as creatures caught in a system of power they have little control over. (1)
Highlighting the disquieting possibilities of our own increasingly narcissistic preoccupations, Fowler’s work suggests the need for a necessary empathetic relationship between humankind and animals.
1. The description of this work and the artist’s quote taken from Anna Davis’ introduction, MCA Collection: New Acquisitions in Context 2010, (exhibition catalogue), Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, October 2010
You get this picture of humanity – prehistoric right through to futuristic – which is how I approach understanding where we are as a civilisation or as a species.