This summer the ONCA Trust and Gallery hosts Exile: A Living of Forest, in partnership with the Born Free Foundation.
Exile is a multidisciplinary exhibition, guest curated by Rosie McGoldrick, that asks us to enter the forest through animal eyes, of artists becoming animal to explore loss of home.
How does it feel for an animal who lives in the forest when that forest is no longer safe? And can we discover the animal inside ourselves to imagine that exile?
Rosie McGoldrick, Guest Curator commented,
“In describing the displacement of one of his mirrors in the hot Mexico sun on a field trip, the artist Robert Smithson once wrote drily: “Why should flies be without art?”
“Well, imagining other animals’ subjectivities is odd. Immediately you do so, dyed-in-the-wool humanists think you’re being whimsical, trivial or (closer to the truth) that you’re an animal rights activist. Yet we’ve known for some time other animals feel – have memories, feel pain, emotion and pleasure. And also that other animals have different sensoria from the human animal and from each other.
“These are serious discoveries. They justify us thinking that other animals might experience something like exile when made homeless. And that’s an issue of land and so needs a politics of representation…”
Taking place over 6 weeks the Exile programme will include visual arts, films, workshops, performances, talks, puppetry and debates, as well as an interactive creative space at ONCA Gallery in which every visitor will have the chance to explore their relationship with the animal other.
Key events as part of the programme include Encountering the Animal: An ONCA Conversation event with special guest, conservationist Ian Redmond OBE and selected artists on 14 August, as well as Becoming-Animal an evening of debate around the role of becoming-animal in promoting ecological activity on 30 August in partnership with University of Brighton.
For Exile we have linked with the work of the Born Free Foundation at the Kahuzi Biega National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The park is a critical habitat for a number of species, including the endangered Eastern lowland gorilla.
This area has been affected by serious civil unrest, and suffers from severe deforestation. Dedicated rangers risk their lives on a regular basis in order to patrol the Park and protect its inhabitants. They work in tough conditions, with minimal equipment or support – large areas of the park have been largely inaccessible since 1996 due to the presence of armed militias.
The Born Free Foundation has supported a variety of projects in Kahuzi Biega since 2000, including equipping the rangers and providing alternative livelihoods opportunities for the local community. Over the last year, Born Free have helped to develop the park’s gorilla health monitoring programme. This programme either directly or indirectly addresses the three key threats currently facing Eastern lowland gorillas: habitat loss, disease and poaching.
Gabriel Fava, Programmes Officer at Born Free Foundation commented,
“The Born Free Foundation has a direct impact on the protection of wildlife and their habitats, and safeguards animals from essentially becoming exiled, either in the wild by virtue of their diminishing numbers or in captivity, often many miles from their home countries.
Partnering with ONCA on the Exile exhibition allows Born Free to highlight its essential conservation work in the Kahuzi Biega National Park to a new audience and provoke thinking around our often devastating impact on animals in the wild.”
Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering and protect threatened species in the wild. Funds raised from the exhibition will be donated to support Born Free Foundation’s conservation work with Kahuzi Biega National Park.
This exhibition is supported by funding from Arts Council England.