15 November 2011

Untitled (Portraits) Version II

Between 18.00 and 20.00 hrs on 14th September 2011, and between 13.30 and 16.00 on 15th October 2011, a live 12 ft Burmese python was present in the gallery space at Exeter Phoenix.
Visitors were permitted to hold or interact with the animal and have their photograph taken (if they provide a camera/camera phone)*

Semi- autobiographical, Untitled (Portrait) investigates the artist’s relationships with her family and emotions evoked when our loved ones may be in a dangerous situation.Alongside the performance outlined above, two small, loaned, photographs depict relatives of the artist posing on separate occasions with dangerous animals on ‘family outings’. 
The artist's brother is pictured in 2001 on holiday adorned with two large snakes, and the artist’s grandmother and cousin are shown 'petting' an adult tiger at an animal sanctuary in Thailand in 2008.
This photograph is kept in her grandmother's handbag as a proud trophy of her achievement and bravery. A risk assessment for the performance written by the Curator, is presented next to the photographs. (see blog post - Untitled (Portraits) for images of this ephemera).

Influenced by works such as Huang Yong Ping’s Theater of the World (1993), and Beuys’ I like America and America Likes me, Untitled (Portraits) explores the potential neutralization of danger of a wild animal in an artificial or staged environment. 
By placing a live python in the galley space, the work questions both the union between the natural kingdom and the realm of artificiality, and our human desire to portray ourselves in control of situations with dangerous or exotic animals.

With thanks to Hana Evans and Quang Li.

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