Primal urges: Amanda Nedham at Le Gallery
What seems like 10 minutes ago, I wrote about Amanda Nedham's rough, menacing installation at Whippersnapper on College Street. Double-checking to make sure my brain hadn't blown a fuse, I was shocked to learn that it was almost a year ago -- last January, in fact -- and that time is moving even faster than I had feared. In any case, on both fronts, much has changed: In that time, Whippersnapper has gained bonafide Artist-Run Centre status, filling a gap in that landscape for fresh-out-of-school eager beavers, and Nedham has been hard at work on a new suite of her exhaustingly, painfully fine graphite drawings, now showing at Le Gallery.
Those who know her work won't be surprised to find it once again locked in visceral critique with the human impulse for forced servitude to our animal-world workhorses -- dogs, of course, and, well, horses. Nedham's primary concern is a conceptual taxonomy of the man-beast relationship, and it isn't always so bleak, but its undercurrent is: How animals are yoked into function by we nature-dissociated humans for various reasons, be it to till fields, ride into battle, herd sheep, or make nice between superpowers (a dismally rabid panda bear appears here, cuddling a puppy, reminding us, or me, of China's gift of Ling-Ling to the U.S. National Zoo in Washington in the 70s).
The results, buy and large, are primal fantasy-nightmares, all carcasses and bones and slathering jaws, knitting together dark childhood visions of fantastical beasts and a creepy, manipulated future of purpose built hybrids. It's not hard grasp which of these is bleaker -- or, with our unbridled cloning and genetic modification zeal, closer to reality.
Amanda Nedham, Like Milk & Blood, closes Dec. 22.