Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape: From the Collection of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery
January 14 to March 25, 2017
Central Gallery
Claude Breeze
Glenn Ligon
Rudolf Schwarzkogler
Geneviève Cadieux
Attila Richard Lukacs
Jack Shadbolt
Emily Carr
Ron Martin
Corin Sworn
Geoffrey Farmer
Gordon Payne
Elizabeth Vander Zaag
Russell FitzGerald
Margaret Peterson
Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun
Lawren Harris
Jerry Pethick
William Woollett
Donald Jarvis
Marina Roy
Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape looks at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery’s collection through the lens of today’s “post-humanist” discourse that questions the singularity and primacy of man, which has been the dominant view in the West since the Renaissance. At a time of impending catastrophe caused by the change in climate provoked by human activity, some say we now live in a geological age called the Anthropocene—the era when human activity has transformed the global climate. It is perhaps ironic that at this juncture, progressive scholars have come to question a basic assumption of the modern West, that man is the measure of all things.

While one aspect of “post-humanist” studies explores the issues around artificial intelligence and the transformation of our bodies and culture by technology, another looks at alternative ways of seeing the symbiotic relationships between people, animals and land. This latter view proposes a kind of re-enchantment with the world we live in and extends the possibility of sentience and agency to all living creatures and many places as well. The selection of artworks from the Belkin Art Gallery’s collection could be seen to be about animal/human transformation or landscape/human transformation.

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun is one of many First Nations artists claiming that Indigenous cosmology insists that the land is a living physical and spiritual entity to be profoundly respected. Humans and animals transform into each other and the Creator speaks to us through nature. Reading Emily Carr’s accounts of her painting experience, we realized that her work could also be seen in light of these concerns. Her process involved her becoming landscape, not just depicting landscape. Geneviève Cadieux's Loin de moi, et près du lointain (1993) is a literal transformation of bodies into landscape. And the Viennese artist Rudolf Schwarzkogler performs a kind of alchemy with fish and paint. The idea of becoming animal/becoming landscape allowed other works from this collection to be included which expand the conversation in ways to stimulate and surprise.

Becoming Animal/Becoming Landscape: From the Collection of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery is organized and circulated by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia with support from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Curated by Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery
View images of the exhibition here.

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