Wed Feb 21 2018
Vesper – Austin McQuinn
Triskel Arts Centre
Opening 2pm Saturday 10 February - Saturday 28 April
10am – 4pm Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat & 10am – 12pm Wed Admission Free
‘Vesper’ is an archaic word for evening and also for the most common species of bat. For this solo exhibition of new work Austin McQuinn deepens his long interest in human-animal relationships by exploring the marginal existences and consciousness of bats.
Inspired by the church gallery space, situated between the belfry and the cavernous basement, McQuinn’s new paintings evoke the bat’s phenomenal experience of its world.
Austin McQuinn’s first solo exhibition ‘Occupied Territories’ took place at Triskel Arts Centre in 1991, this is his first time exhibiting in the Christchurch space.
Being a Bat
In an essay written in 1974, Thomas Nagel asked the question ‘what is it like for a bat to be a bat?’ He asked us to stretch our understanding of who and what had a conscious sense of themselves, such as a bat – not out of any particular interest in animals or concerns around bat welfare – but to push our thinking towards a breach of the exclusive, received idea of what it is to be human. By imagining what a bat might ‘think’ itself to be, our own thinking is challenged and expanded.
The history of personifying bats as ugly, secretive, pestilent and vampiric loads this small creature with well over its own weight in metaphor. The truth is that bats live alongside us, quietly. They live out an ecological exquisiteness in their relationship to human, urban and natural worlds. By cleaning the air of insects at night, digesting populations of midge infested streets or fields, bats live with us and without us, but always at some level of proximate consciousness.
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