Shark features the work of over 70 artists from all around the world, each with his or her own perspective on the creatures. Four hundred different species are depicted, some as man-eating predators and others as mere victims at the mercy of humans who pollute and invade their waters. Curated by the revered marine artist Richard Ellis, Shark is a multimedia event that highlights art in a variety of formats, from paintings to drawings, photography to sculpture and video. Each work taps into our primal fear of sharks and the mystery that has surrounded them for decades.
Perhaps what was most fascinating about the show was the feeling of terror many of the works invoke. Physically, many of the pieces are quite large, causing the viewer to recognize his utter smallness in light of such powerful specimens. Take, for instance, Robert Longo’s rendition of a Great White emerging out of darkness, “Untitled (large black shark portrait)” (2008). The shark is bone white, and your eyes are immediately drawn to its teeth, immense and jagged in its mouth. The artist plays on our inner fear by illuminating the shark and keeping its surroundings pitch black, deep and unidentifiable.
“Shark Fin Soup” (2011) by Judy Cotton takes a different approach. The painting touches on the commercial exploitation of sharks and the destruction we cause to their species and habitat. The artist seems to be asking who the true killers are — why we have, for years, regarded sharks as senseless killers when in fact we are the ones doing the bulk of the damage. In China, shark fin is a delicacy, an aphrodisiac used in soup (a bowl can run as much as $157) and other dishes. The people consider it a health tonic and consume it often. The nation of over a billion people is the world leader in fish capture, aquaculture and fish/shark consumption — although the government may be slowly coming around to environmentalist concerns, as it recently issued a ban on serving shark fin at official banquets.
Johnston Foster’s “Life Psychotic II” is an exceptional work constructed out of found materials. It reflects the physical and social environment that sharks live in. The strong use of shape and color is especially impressive, given that all the elements used were found in dumpsters, streets and abandoned alleyways.
In one room, the documentary Blue Water, White Death (1971) is showing. Directed by Peter Gimbel and James Lipscomb, it captures the four-month, 12,000-mile journey of a team fascinated by a Great White. The film was one of the inspirations for Peter Benchley’s book Jaws, which I wrote about previously.
Leaving the exhibition, my fascination with sharks, their power, mystery and conflicting reputations, was quickly transformed into a deeper obsession. I’m considering a tattoo, in fact — well, at least one of the temporary ones offered in the Family Activity Guide.
Shark is showing at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale (1 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida) through January 6, 2013.
The action could disrupt public access to the museum as workers campaign for higher wages and better labor conditions.
Over 500 scholars signed an open letter to reinstate the exhibition, which was postponed in consideration of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
This week, artist studios in the streets of Manhattan, a Texas high school, a Brooklyn apartment, and more.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including Ed Ruscha, Nina Katchadourian, Luis Camnitzer, Martha Edelheit, and more.
Join the New-York Historical Society on February 10 for a virtual conversation about our changing relationship to the natural world with Julie Decker, John Grade, and LaMont Hamilton.
Asawa’s life masks do not keep count of past or future losses.
At San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, Mobina Nouri took scissors to her own strands and invited others to do the same.
Amid a worsening inflation crisis, Sergio Guillermo Diaz’s banknote artworks are a poignant symbol of Argentinian resilience.
Theatres of Melancholy: The Neo-Romantics in Paris and Beyond highlights a group of artists who found acclaim and patronage only to fall back into obscurity.
Presented by Northwestern’s Block Museum and McCormick School of Engineering, this new exhibition seeks empathy at the boundaries of life. On view in Evanston, Illinois.
Jean Renoir’s newly restored 1939 classic proves that lawless wealth — then as now — makes a marvelous farce of us all.
Hamburg’s Antisemitism Commissioner disparaged photographer Adam Broomberg for his support of the BDS movement.