Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009
single-channel digital video, HD, colour, sound, 15min 10s
15 min 10s
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. Goat Odyssey contains pagan and Greco-Roman symbols, and is set in a clinically tiled, hermetic interior reminiscent of sci-fi cinema. Goats, once symbols of unbridled sexuality and nature, are stripped of these attributes and appear as carefully bred, domesticated creatures adorned with richly embroidered, ritualistic accessories enclosed within an artificial environment.
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.