East of Man, Eternally in Kodak - Needles & Pens
East of Man, Eternally in Kodak
Stephen Billick, Logan Caldbeck, Sandy Carson, Kris Graves, and Eva Devon Soni
*curated by Amanda Roscoe Mayo
Needles & Pens, San Francisco CA
September 13 - October 4
Opening Reception and Zine Launch September 13 7-9:30pm
East of Man, Eternally in Kodak features Sandy Carson, Logan Caldbeck, Stephen Billick, Kris Graves, and Eva Devon Soni. These artists hail from all over the United States and offer their diverse contemporary perspectives on the complicated history between photography and taxidermy.
North America has a particularly interesting history with taxidermy. Carl Akeley famously took to the jungles and deserts of Africa to bring back examples of species for the Natural History Museum in New York City. He was a true pioneer in taxidermy technique, his animals, once mounted, exhibited a life-like resemblance that was previously unattainable. Akeley was obsessed with representing all aspects of the animals’ habitats. Each diorama housed carefully chosen flora and intricately painted backgrounds mimicking their natural surroundings. Determined to understand the creatures in their environment. Akeley photographed the wildlife and eventually began taking moving film footage once the technology became available through Kodak. This research was then used with the best of intentions to inform Akeley’s dioramas at the Natural History Museum. He was not the only one making these journeys to hunt and “capture” this information, Eastman Kodak himself made many a safari with Theodore Roosevelt and other hunting enthusiasts to attain trophies of animals and images both still and moving.
Artists Sandy Carson (Austin, TX via Scotland) and Logan Caldbeck (Marfa, TX via Vancouver, BC) offer two very different perspectives on how taxidermy has infiltrated contemporary North American society. Kris Graves (New York, NY) has made images of the very dioramas Carl Akeley created so many years ago in the Museum of Natural History in New York. Ethnolinguistic groups of Africa are presented on a map created by Stephen Billick (Salisbury, CT) of JOHN design firm, to be printed in a limited hand-numbered run and sold at a price a worker could afford. Contemporary taxidermy by Eva Devon Soni (San Francisco, CA) tells a different kind of story, one of whimsy and imagination. These various elements offer insight into the history of this widely popular culture and how it is eternally frozen in time in the form of preservation and film.
Needles & Pens is an emporium of zines, books, handmade goods, and an art gallery. Located in San Francisco's Mission District since 2003, the space aims to provide an affordable place where like-minded people from the community can display and sell their own homemade goods, home-published zines, and artwork. The shop and gallery is open daily noon – 7pm and is located at 3235 16th street. For more information visit www.needles-pens.com.