Artworks for Animals

Cover of publication containing texts and images from the exhibition

Installation overview

Exhibition with 6 sculptures made for different animals or groups of animals:

  1. -Animals in the forest

  2. -Moles

  3. -Snakes

  4. -Ants

  5. -Animals in the sea

  6. -Sheep

The aim of each sculpture was to relate to the animals in question only aesthetically and not through some kind of practical or functional purpose. The point of this was to make art for animals in the same way that people might often make art for humans – it doesn’t have to (or perhaps shouldn’t) be useful, and its meaning/value doesn’t have to be transparent.

Generally, the shapes and materials of the works were chosen because of they might either blend in or stick out in the given environments of the animals. My intention with this was to make works that somehow appeared surprising or striking to their animal audience.

Artworks for Animals was shown in 2013 at the exhibition EXTRACT III at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND in Copenhagen, DK. The sculptures were displayed in vitrines and on photographs in which they figured in the environments of their respective animal audiences. These photographs are shown below on this page, together with texts that were added in 2017 for a reprint of a publication about the exhibition.

For ants

The box seen here is a 24cm cube with one small entrance for ants (and other small, exploring animals). Inside the box are 49 identical tin sculptures lined up in rows. As a container of symmetry and orderliness, the box is intended to reflect the organization of the ant hill. Are the ants at all able to perceive this parallel, or, for that matter, would they be aware of obvious differences?

For animals in the forest

With its shape and material, this 85cm long plaster sculpture is made to resemble old bone or other hard, decaying tissue. Smaller and larger bones as well as antlers from wild game appear in the forest in which the sculpture sits. Might the animals in the forest recognize the resemblance between these and the sculpture, or even mistake the sculpture for an unusual bone from an unusual animal?

For sheep

105cm tall, this sculpture is here seen jutting out from a small crevice on the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. By its shape, it may be reminiscent of a shepherd’s crook, a walking stick, or some other simple tool designed for human hands. As such, the relatability of the sculpture for the sheep that graze the area might lie in its references to humans. These references are also found in the materials from which it is made. To support its height is a steel rod at its center, while the rest of the sculpture consists of rope and tar.

For animals in the sea

A thin steel chain connects this 72cm tall floating sculpture to a weight, allowing it to drift along the seabed. While its shape is rather organic – perhaps not unlike a giant snail shell, though with parts that resemble fins – its materials are highly manufactured and often used for ship maintenance. Hollow on the inside, the sculpture has a polyester shell and is coated with marine paint. As such, it can present a mix of something that looks organic, but feels synthetic.

For moles

Since it is buried, the sculpture cannot be seen in this photograph – however, it is shown on the title sheet of this booklet. The small sculpture, measuring about 12cm in length, is made of cold porcelain – a cornstarch and white glue based putty, which remains fairly soft even as it hardens. With a shape not unlike a root vegetable and a surface that feels leathery soft, the sculpture is hopefully attractive to moles and their delicate sense of touch.

For snakes

These 9 wooden, teardrop-shaped rings range from 50cm to 5cm in diameter and can be planted in dirt or sand to suggest a tunnel. For any snake that might slither through them, the tunnel either widens or narrows depending on the direction of entry. This affects the view at the end of the tunnel: The environment is shown either in an increasingly large or increasingly small frame. The tunnel might also reflect the snake’s own, long body, although distortedly, being of greatly varying size.