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Over the past few years, New York-based artist Dana Sherwood has organized a picnic for wild baboons on the South African coast, left banquets for raccoons in the suburbs of South Florida, and concocted a molded terrine of jellied spam, beef, hot dogs, and marrow bones for coyotes. Most recently, she made elaborate confections of meat, fish, and local produce for ocelots, bugs, bats, and birds in Brazil. Her wooden food cart that was stationed for two weeks in the Botanical Garden of Brasília is now on view at Denny Gallery as the centerpiece for her solo show Crossing the Wild Line.
Each dish in Sherwood’s homemade feasts looks like it’s out of a vintage Betty Crocker book, the kind of decadent dessert you might find at a 1970s house party, albeit with ingredients specific to certain animals’ diets: jello mold-shapes topped with tiny fish, a fish head temptingly displayed on a bed of carefully positioned shrimp. (The food is all resin in the Lower East Side show, so don’t worry about competing for space with rats and roaches.) A video that is embedded on the cart shows the snacking animals captured by her trail cameras, like an ocelot nibbling on some hanging meat, or birds scavenging in the darkness. On the walls, framed with sausage links, are whimsical watercolor illustrations of her animal visitors, which she often makes while waiting the days, and sometimes weeks, between leaving her feasts and retrieving the videos.
The impulsive reaction might be that Sherwood is encouraging wild animals to rely on humans, and is disrupting their natural life cycles. However, she focuses on animal populations where a human presence has already pushed the wildlife to the boundaries of its original habitat. Directly engaging with wild populations embedded in human-claimed space, she’s considering our relationship with other animals when we’ve already damaged their ecosystem.
Back in 2014, when she was exhibiting her “Banquets in the Dark Wildness” installation at the Museum of Biblical Art, she explained to me that what’s interesting to her “is how our territories are overlapped. There’s a desire to forge some kind of community. We want this idealized coexistence to happen, but when it comes to our backyard, it causes stress.”
In 2008, she collaborated with her husband, artist Mark Dion, on a tiny conservatory full of pastry confections in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. It was only on closer look that visitors to the central, heavily-touristed garden noticed it was swarmed with insects. Despite our ongoing expansion of human habitation in formerly wild space, we tend to keep nature at a distance. By collaborating with the chaotic, unpredictable, natural world, Sherwood is crossing that line.
Dana Sherwood: Crossing the Wild Line continues at Denny Gallery (261 Broome Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan) through February 21.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…