Unnatural History: A Reading of Spaces

2010
Audio Guide


Images: © Tim Etchells

If that baboon was alive he could feel that the warthog is staring right at the back of his head the whole time. You cannot tell really why they arranged it that way. You cannot really understand. But I think it is not so good for the little baboon. Nobody likes that feeling. It feels like someone is drilling in the back of your head when they stare at you like that. And if the warthog was alive he would have to be very very interested or even totally obsessed about the baboon, and especially with the back of the little baboon’s head. Why else would he be looking at it like that the whole time? Or maybe he’d spend all his time thinking that the baboon should just get out of his way – so that the warthog can go forwards and press his face against the glass or something, whatever warthogs like to do when they are trapped in a cabinet.

Responding to the Natural History Museum at Admont, re-established after the devastating fire of 1865, Unnatural History takes the form of an audio guide to the collection. Drawing the visitors’ attention to selected displays and to specific taxidermied or preserved creatures featured in them, the work playfully eschews a complete account in favour of a highly selective, partisan and idiosyncratic approach to the museum and its contents. Unnatural History reads the institution as an alien landscape – interpreting its displays and arrangements of wildlife for their significance and possible meaning in unexpected ways.

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