May 2nd - June 5th 2016
'Absence is a metaphor of desire. Representation is a distancing in time and space. It's a 'regeneration' of an image and ideas. Time can't exist without memory. Memory can't exist without representation'
Bypass Wildlife is a work combining a range of media - drawing, text, moving image and sound - to form an online archive, documenting Poole's daily encounter with roadkill. Prompted by her commute from Southport to Preston, Poole surveys a twenty mile stretch of road, scouring the tarmac for 'a find.'
Date, time, place, weather conditions, location, general condition of the creature - and species (name, dependent upon condition, of course). Her records are meticulous; not dissimilar to reports taken at the scene of a crime, forensically assessing the damage and conditions of the apparent hit and run. The work references the un-sentimentality of Mary Kelly's Post Partum Document (a clinical treatment of bodily matter, where child is framed as specimen) - a pragmatic approach to matter imbued with meaning. Poole takes on the grim task of locating the dead and preserving what is left; now represented as visual, textual and sonic forms of data and operating in the liminal space between existence and nature's removal.
Reading Poole's blog posts, one could be forgiven for perceiving the work to be dispassionate - cold even (Mary Kelly suffered similar accusations) - but how then is this reconciled when considering Poole's delicately hand-drawn gif?
Whilst the records provide evidence of an incident and it's environmental context, the animated gif shifts the focus to the victim. This kind of drawing is a slow process, a gesture of dedication suggesting the passage of time in labor and in looking, and a belief that the subject is worthy of such intense study. A homage, a commemorative act of servitude in the absence of a respectful burial? …perhaps. But the work also references natural history archives and the ambivalence of 'study skins', collected by past Lord's as badges of honor or tools in the advancement of science. Poole's archive is impressive: in amongst the abundant pests lies the illusive tawny owl; mythologized as wise, imbued with magic- sometimes heard but rarely seen or experienced in broad daylight.
'Animation is about [a] kind of erasure. Something seems as solid as fact - a static drawing or a photo has the stability of a fact - is, a second later, transformed.'
In the museum, we come face to face with such illusive creatures. Our experience relies to a large extent, on studying these stuffed silent static skins... scrutinizing from a safe distance these great breathless specimens, without fear of sudden movement. Standing above this once intimidating creature, Poole goes about business as usual, recording the incident. But in this instance something unusual happens: wings left intact are caught by the wind and with a sudden flap of movement, a gust animates the dead. From static image to destabilizing transformation, we move from specimen to victim: the tragedy of this once magnificent creature, flapping back and forth in the wind like a plastic bag.
Heather Ross, 2016
Kathryn Poole is an artist based in Preston, Lancashire.
Heather Ross is an artist based in London and Lecturer in Fine Art at The University of Central Lancashire, Preston.