Kathy Temin
Pet Ceme­tery

2nd October – 8th November 2014
Anna Schwartz Gallery

In Kathy Temin’s recent Mon­u­ment works thick­ets of large, stuffed syn­thet­ic fur tree sculp­tures have been trans­plant­ed into gallery spaces, form­ing snowy white, neat­ly top­i­aried rows or impos­ing, impen­e­tra­ble black forests. To view these works it is nec­es­sary to nego­ti­ate a path, to nav­i­gate through an envi­ron­ment, and to acknowl­edge the scale of the body against the mass of mate­ri­als. Their immense size and den­si­ty recalls the threat of the for­est, but their per­fect­ly com­posed order­li­ness speaks more of the for­mal gar­den. Nature, the wilder­ness, the unknow­able; and cul­ture, socia­bil­i­ty, the known — Temin’s work is struc­tured around the pos­si­ble states between appar­ent binaries.

Pet Ceme­tery’ retains ele­ments of the gar­den, though reduced in scale to some­thing more like inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion, pot plants or front-yard top­i­ary. The for­est has become domes­ti­cat­ed. Nine sculp­tures, com­pa­ra­ble in size to items of house­hold fur­ni­ture, such as the side­board, invoke ref­er­ences to inte­ri­or design from the 1970s. They invite indi­vid­ual inspec­tion and require a par­tic­u­lar kind of jour­ney through the gallery. The works are con­crete and MDF, sol­id and heavy, but soft­ened with Temin’s sig­na­ture syn­thet­ic fur uphol­stery, here the colour is dark orange, filled with syn­thet­ic stuff­ing and fin­ished in the Chester­field style, like grand old leather couch­es. These lux­u­ri­ant mini-mon­u­ments are pro­pos­als for tombs or coffins for pets.

Par­tic­u­lar ani­mals are remem­bered in the titles such as Pet Tomb: Tina, Pet Tomb: Ebaneza, and Pet Tomb: Har­ry. The kind of ani­mal remem­bered by each tomb — their species, their per­son­al­i­ty, their rela­tion­ships — can­not be ascer­tained for cer­tain (they are (the human”) names of the artist’s and her friends’ deceased pets. That such ani­mals are val­ued by peo­ple is what is clear in Temin’s pro­pos­als. One’s intro­duc­tion to loss is often through the death of a pet. The rit­u­als that sur­round the deaths of domes­ti­cat­ed ani­mals are reminders of the reveal­ing place they hold in human social life: they are part of the fam­i­ly’, reared and trained in the home, often loved and some­times lov­ing — at least, their emo­tion­al lives are so con­ceived by peo­ple. Temin’s work has fre­quent­ly occu­pied ter­ri­to­ry where objects are trans­formed or trans­lat­ed, imper­son­at­ed or per­formed. Anthro­po­mor­phism — both stud­ied in oth­ers, and employed as a strat­e­gy — is some­thing she uses to reflect and describe the strange norms of human behaviour.

In Pet Ceme­tery’ Temin applies to the ani­mal world cer­tain priv­i­leges and trib­utes that are reserved for human rit­u­als around death and com­mem­o­ra­tion. The spir­it of lux­u­ri­ance and excess, devot­ed to beings no longer able to appre­ci­ate such ges­tures, is some­thing that Temin has looked at in var­i­ous reli­gious tra­di­tions, espe­cial­ly since trav­el­ling through East­ern Europe and Italy in recent years. The grandiose Catholic church­es of Venice and elab­o­rate Jew­ish fam­i­ly tombs in Hun­gary; nev­er vis­i­ble to those whom they were built to hon­our. Temin is inter­est­ed in homage, and how remem­brance is made; in Pet Ceme­tery, per­haps she asks who, indeed, the trib­ute is real­ly for.

Temin’s work unabashed­ly encom­pass­es con­tra­dic­tions and equiv­o­ca­tions: the mon­u­men­tal and the domes­tic; the regal and the home­ly; the dead­pan-gen­uine and the pos­si­bly-iron­ic. She adapts cer­tain tra­di­tions to accept what they were built to exclude, and in Pet Ceme­tery’, there lingers the desire with­in her ear­li­er work to allow the body back into abstrac­tion, despite Mod­ernist art’s efforts to repress it. In Temin’s work, the mono­chrome is the nexus of a plu­ral­i­ty of expe­ri­ence and asso­ci­a­tion. Her mon­u­ments, being both min­i­mal and sen­ti­men­tal, are peti­tions against exclu­sion and forgetting.

Images

Kathy Temin

Pet Ceme­tery, 2014
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery

Kathy Temin

Pet Tomb: Harry, 2014
con­crete and syn­thet­ic fur
848636 cm

Kathy Temin

Pet Tomb: Oscar, 2014
con­crete, MDF and syn­thet­ic fur
2424839 cm

Kathy Temin

Pet Tomb: Tina, 2014
syn­thet­ic fur, MDF and filling
178100110 cm

Kathy Temin

Pet Tomb: Roger, 2014
syn­thet­ic fur, MDF and filling
10921050 cm

Kathy Temin

Pet Tomb: Csilla, 2014
con­crete, MDF and syn­thet­ic fur
1103438 cm

Kathy Temin

Pet Tomb: Ebeneza, 2014
syn­thet­ic fur, MDF and filling
2209595 cm

Kathy Temin

Pet Tomb: Nikki, 2014
syn­thet­ic fur and MDF
1086065 cm

Kathy Temin

Pet Tomb: Boris, 2014
con­crete, syn­thet­ic fur, MDF and filling
1293434 cm