ORNITHOLOGY – Toi Poneke – 2007

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Curatorial Statement:

Ornithology is an exhibition featuring local artists Hannah Bremner and Jay Bendikson that examines birds, deconstructing and re-representing them as artefacts imbued with human emotion. This is an aesthetically fascinating exhibition with a hint of the grotesque and a suggestion of the gothic.

Hannah Bremner is a sculptor. She has constructed installation environments that satirise the nineteenth century cabinet of curiosity. Her work is a musecological study of parts – preserved, pinned and pieced together to form a history and narrative.

She has built imagined birds skeletons, eggs and feathers and exhibits them in an awkward tableau. In the work The Imaginary Archives, cast glass, birds heads with disproportionately large beaks, are placed like ornaments on a beautifully turned and crisply painted white shelf.  The spectator is drawn to them because of their tiny, apparent fragility, and an innate desire to cradle them, yet we are simultaneously repulsed at their grotesque dismembered state.

This presentation enables the spectator to view the absurdity of the practice of collection and exhibition for the purpose of scientific study. There is no rational system of display or documentation. Rather than a diorama that attempts to prove or disprove the existence of a bird with an elongated beak, this is an exhibition of art objects that serves to emphasise the indistinct boundaries between art, artefact and scientific study. Here science and art collide.

Katie Duke