Iris Schieferstein

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Iris Schieferstein works to transform. Through the labor-intensive and messy process of taxidermy, Schieferstein combines parts of dead and discarded animals to create magnificent hybrids that force the spectator to approach or to back away. Whether the outcome is sculpture, fashion, or household décor, in every animal object there lurks visual and tactile ambiguity: the desire to look closely, a peculiar hunger to touch, is accompanied by (delightful) horror.

The process of collecting, arranging, and assembling fragments into allegorical objects is a labor of eco-glam – a term that points to the artist’s involvement in the field of ecology as well as of glamour, and (furthermore) her intervention and consideration of glamour in relation to environment. As such, the artist’s use and misuse of taxidermic materials incite the spectator’s plethora of readings which are haunted by the possibility of their own excess. In this sense, as Rachel Poliquin in her book on taxidermy notes, Schieferstein’s works “provoke viewers to flesh out the work’s profundity for themselves.

There is no one meaning. From disgust, to melancholia, to a more philosophical analysis of the horrors and beauty of life, each viewer will find his or her meaning, if he or she is willing to look long enough. After all, the creatures have been recombined precisely to engage an empathetic response in viewers. Perhaps mythic in significance, perhaps ethically reprehensible, such animal art can leave no viewer unchallenged. They purposely make us uncomfortable. They exude a sense of uneasiness, a queasiness, a sense of wrongness, of rightness. They become brutal allegories of the endless human quest to achieve resonance and place within the natural world and the destruction humans will cause to find meaning.“ (Rachel Poliquin, The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing, Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012)

Next exhibition: 16 – 26th November