An Unnatural History

Event Details

An Unnatural History

Time: November 8, 2012 at 6pm to December 3, 2012 at 5pm
Location: In Toto Gallery
Street: 6 Birdhaven Centre, 66 st. Andrew Street
City/Town: Johannesburg
Website or Map:
Phone: 011 447 6543
Event Type: art, exhibition
Organized By: Megan Amy Kidd
Latest Activity: Oct 24, 2012

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Event Description

In Andy Wyeth’s new solo show, An Unnatural History, we find ourselves in a foreign world, at once familiar and unknown. The work hints at biblical, mythological and historical themes to create an alternative dream-like history, in which nothing is certain.


Wyeth employs a light-hearted approach to present pictures of life and death. Wyeth imagines what might happen if we were to conceive of death in terms of those who are already on the other side. In these worlds we find hybrid, extinct and prehistoric creatures, as well as skeletons serenading themselves with music. One thing that must be acknowledged is the absence of people, who appear only through abstractions like hands and bones and the effects they impart on others.


Sometimes the images capture the moment between life and death. Imagine the great springbuck migrations of previous centuries. Wyeth sets up a moment where the leaders of the migration (and there are hundreds of thousands of springbuck behind them) cross a river. Soon the river will be a mass of dead bodies trampled underfoot by the mighty herd following.


 Wyeth draws inspiration from old woodcuts and incorporates the often haunting qualities found in natural history illustrations to create a world which shifts between a strange limbo, some sort of earth and afterlife. The inhabitants of this world find themselves having to cope with circumstances beyond their control in an attempt to carry on existing and surviving.


A kind of mirroring emerges: after all, the viewpoint is not simply the dead imagining what the dead might look like. The creatures who have crossed over to the other side look back at the living and imagine what they might look like. Wyeth’s images allow us, for the moment, to forget that it is only the living who can present pictures of death and eternity.

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