Mella Jaarsma: Dogwalk
The artist's costume installation is brought to life
During the 20th Biennale of Sydney, Mella Jaarsma presents Dogwalk 2016, an installation of 12 costumes made using the skins of cows, sheep and goats, which each week will be brought to life by performers.
Offering an alternative to the fashion parade and a parody of the more familiar term ‘catwalk’, the performance incorporates simple actions and gestures to explore the often contradictory attitudes humans have towards different creatures – variously revered or reviled, treated as pet or pest.
For Jaarsma, the bond between humans and animals, dogs in particular, is also emblematic of some of the behavioural characteristics associated with the mythological figure of the trickster. In Dogwalk, her sculptural costumes appear as human-animal hybrids, evoking these shape-shifting deities that manipulate and deceive, bringing about chaotic circumstances that act as a catalyst for creativity, invention and innovation.
Image: Mella Jaarsma Dogwalk 2015–16 (production still detail), leather, stuffed cow and goat feet, multi-channel video. Courtesy of the artist and Arndt Fine Art. Photo: Mie Cornoedus