press release

Human Nature is a group exhibition exploring the relationships between animal instincts and contemporary social conditioning. Using film, photography, sculpture, painting, and sound these internationally renowned artists investigate our reactions to natural landscapes and social environments, opening up a discussion on what it is to be human.

Through comic dialogue and critical exploration Human Nature asks whether evolution has corrupted our dependence on natural surroundings and erased our primitive intuitions. When contemporary culture is heavily fuelled by reality television, national surveillance cameras, and fashionable camera phones, is it possible to still act instinctively, or is our behaviour defined by where we are and who is watching us?

Exhibiting together for the first time these nine contemporary artists expose our behavioural tendencies through the enactment of social codes, deep-rooted animal instincts, and recreational relationships we forge with nature.

Marcus Coates (UK), known for his animal imitations and community residencies, presents a new film, Journey to the Lower World (2004). Off the Grid (2001-2004), a series of large format, performative photographs by Ellen Lesperance and Jeanine Oleson (USA), make reference to a pre-modern fantasy land where natural instincts act beyond social expectations. The Morison’s (UK) present a collection of audio interviews in Still Life (2001-2004), recorded while eavesdropping on hobby enthusiasts, merging details of natural surroundings with storytelling. Yoshua Okon (Mexico) reduces the human species to its most primitive components in his satirical documentary Crabby (2004) which frames two women in a vital fight for food. Gerry Smith (UK) dramatically reinforces the potential loss of identity through an enactment of social codes, in his painting A Respectful Silence (2004). Gitte Villesen, who will represent Denmark in this year’s Venice Biennale, shows Vorbosse Horse Market and Fair (Young One) (1995), an investigation into how individuals perform the accepted rules of society, when caught on camera. Zöe Walker’s (UK) Somewhere Special (1999), presents a portable work that questions the emotional short-fallings of idyllic landscapes.

With generous support from Martinspeed Ltd., Tropic Invest AG and Film and Video Umbrella. Supported by MA Creative Curating, Goldsmiths College


Human Nature

mit Marcus Coates, Ellen Lesperance & Jeanine Oleson, Heather & Ivan Morison, Yoshua Okon, Gerry Smith, Gitte Villesen, Zoe Walker