The Power Plant

Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby: Beauty Plus Pity

Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby

Past Exhibition

Dec 12 2008 – Feb 21 2009

Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby: Beauty Plus Pity 13 December, 2008 - 22 February, 2009 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Curated by Jennifer Matotek

Combining ditties, stories, cartoons, scavenged video footage, and the installation of taxidermied animals and other sculptural elements, Beauty Plus Pity investigates the perverse ethical, emotional and existential relationships among adults, children, animals, and God. Syracuse-based Canadian artists Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby suggest that generational legacies and natural cycles both comfort us with their promise of continuity and entrap us in destructive patterns. They are fascinated by how redemption can sprout from the present just as a tree sprouts from a seed. Reciting Philip Larkin's poem about parental dysfunction, “This Be The Verse,” they urge us to “get out as early as you can” from our parents’ grasp “and don't have any kids yourself.” Although children are not good, the narrator claims, they contain the potential for goodness.

Beauty Plus Pity testifies to life's simultaneously sublime and horrific qualities, and the beauty and shame of existing. Justifying his pleasure in killing animals, the hunter-narrator claims “we want to touch them and hold them.” This longing for closeness casts his fellow hunters' morbid rituals in a new light. Meanwhile a senile God figure stumbles around and makes a fool of himself and the Catholic Church casts out a grieving mother, blaming her for her daughter's death (or so an outraged little mouse tells us). The mouse is part of an animal chorus called The Spirit Guides, who deliver directives to humanity and an ultimatum to the God whom humans have created in their own image. The video piece, and its accompanying sculptural and installation elements, is part apologia and part call to arms.


Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby have been working collaboratively since 1994 in printed matter, installation, new media, curation, and sound, with their primary practice single-channel video. Their work has been exhibited internationally including at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and The Renaissance Society, Chicago, and nationally at the Vancouver Art Gallery. In Toronto their work is represented by Jessica Bradley Art + Projects.

SUPPORT DONORS

John & Peggy Clinton
James Lahey and Pym Buitenhuis

Single-channel video projection (14 min.), taxidermic animals, bench, and paint. Courtesy the artists and Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto. Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Single-channel video projection (14 min.), taxidermic animals, bench, and paint. Courtesy the artists and Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto. Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Single-channel video projection (14 min.), taxidermic animals, bench, and paint. Courtesy the artists and Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto. Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Single-channel video projection, 14 min. Courtesy the artists and Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto.

Single-channel video projection (14 min.), taxidermic animals, bench, and paint. Courtesy the artists and Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto. Photo: Rafael Goldchain.

Single-channel video projection, 14 min. Courtesy the artists and Jessica Bradley Art + Projects, Toronto.