RMIT Gallery’s most recent exhibition, ‘My Monster: The Human Animal Hybrid’ explores and challenges the varied relationships between humans and animals. The gallery has been divided into five sections, headed under Greek mythological names, each exploring a different part of human/animal relationships: 1. xenos (foreigner/stranger) 2. mythos (stories/tales/narrative) 3. tokos (childbirth/reproduction) 4. eros (erotic love) 5. kosmos (the world/universe).
The five sections formed the chapters of curator, Evelyn Tsitas’ PhD research which explored the life-cycle of the human-animal hybrid in fiction. The exhibition and Tsitas research posed many confronting questions on our relationship with animals, including the collapsing barriers between animals and humans, live export trade, and animal insensitivity. However, the most important question of the evening, posed by Tsitas was: ‘What does it mean to be human in the 21st century?’ One that many of us are unsure how to articulate, or perhaps too afraid to know the answer.
Moira Funicane’s piece ‘Fur Can’t Fly’ as part of the ‘mythos’ (stories/tales/narrative) section was a stand out for its immersive and visceral intensity – akin to her most recent cabaret work, ‘The Rapture’. Her sultry, dark voice takes you on a journey to another world and leaves you feeling like you could grow wings and fly if you just believe hard enough.
Perhaps one of the most disturbing works was by Ukrainian born artist Oleg Kulik, ‘Family of the Future’ in which a man is being mounted and dominated by a huge dog. This piece challenged patriarchal notions of control, power, domination and submission. Adrian Van Bloom, who was out on his first Tinder date, said of the artwork: “With regards to the empathy for humans and animals, how long until the underclass are considered animals for consumption, too?
Adrian’s new romantic interest, Emma Schmidt, commented on the ‘Tokos’ (childbirth/reproduction), stating: “It [the section] forces you to think about the nature in which things are made rather than simply viewing the finished product.”
These are both heavy comments, especially for a first date (!) but ones which the exhibition forced us to ask.
‘My Monster: The Human Animal Hybrid’ forces us to examine ourselves as human beings in regards to our relationships with animals: are we really that different and as separate as we think we are? This is a necessary exhibition for those concerned with issues of animals and environment – as we all should be – and is a first step to a more positive and informed relationship with our furry friends