Amber Alcock

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

Human Animal

“There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. It is summed up

in a single word – man.”

- Animal farm, 1944

I have always held ‘fairness’ in such high regard, that the blatant lack of it in the relationship between humans and animals has cut me very deeply over time. There is something about the blatant, often cruel, disregard that we hold for the natural world that has deeply disturbed me since my first encounters with it as a child; my friend’s young brother trying to kick pigeons, a family member intentionally swerving on a backroad to run over a frog, the live chickens packed into crates on the back of a truck on the freeway, etc. I became keenly aware of what I would now call an anthropocentric sickness; humanity’s tremendous superiority complex over comparative animal deficiency. What kinds of modern relational modes has humanity formed with nature and the macrocosmic environment? What is the axiom that humans occur not as a part of nature, but as a distinctive and divergent existence above it? Studies of the ‘other’ and ‘othering’ have become a central topic in the contemporary debate; I would argue that the animal and the natural world that it represents are the ultimate ‘other’, and one that we have barely even begun to reckon with.

In my work this year, I have tried to bring the ‘othered’ animal into the human cognisant space, and perhaps bridge the abyss of comprehension in my own way. In my attempts to render the relationship between humans and animals in oil paint, I've walked an uncanny line between different elements of both subjects. Fusing cuteness and horror, aesthetics and gore, human-made and body-grown, the faculty of fantasy has been a tool in picking up, picking apart, and putting back together perhaps previously indentured convictions. I hope to suggest specific ethical matters in each painting, while still inviting the viewer to look closer. Each one of my ‘creatures’ is similarly heavily affected by the human hand and gaze in some way, even if that touch is surreal in its impersonation of a very real ethical issue.

There are many opposing factors that play important roles in how I have chosen to make images; art history, the place of the animal within that history, the animal in relation to humanities greater modes of being, and my own personal sense of helplessness. Just as there are endless avenues of thought concerning the topic of nature in relation to humanity, there are endless things I would like to say concerning animals, and our deeply flawed attending of them.