Comprising hundreds of rats of various shades and colours created from a wide range of recycled vintage fur coats, this compelling installation by Fredericton based artist Janice Wright Cheney incites contradictory feelings of fascination and unease.
The progeny of rattus norvegicus, or the Norway rat, a most opportunistic creature thought to have arrived in North America on ships in the 1700s, are everywhere, both inside and outside of the stacked cages. They have fully colonized the space, and fully invaded our imaginations. Their fecundity and massification, a common theme in horror movies for accentuating already repelling aspects of a phobia, signal the transgression of safe, secure normalcy, a threat to the established order, triggering the primal fear of being over-run and eaten by hordes of creepy-crawly vermin.
There is a long tradition in the visual arts of turning to animals to chart human experience of the world and to address eternal questions about the human condition. Wright Cheney’s art practice can be viewed as part of this tradition and contributes to the topical field of critical animal studies. Focusing on the cultural construction and problematization of rats because they transgress spaces designated for human habitation, Cellar explores our fundamental fear belief systems by asking the critical question: Where do we locate the border between human beings and rats?
Curators: Lianne McTavish and Terry Graff
Organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in partnership with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of New Brunswick, the City of Fredericton (Arts, Culture & Heritage Funding Program), and the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. Additional funding assistance from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the City of Lethbridge. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country. Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays. Text adapted from original didactic at Beaverbrook Art Gallery, written by Terry Graff.
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 5 at 8 PM
Reception Sponsored by Three Legged Dog: Graphic Design