Stuffed polar bear art project rolls into Worcester Art Gallery and Museum

By Culture24 Staff | 27 November 2009
a photo of men manhandling a stuffed polar bear out of a museum entrance onto the tailgate of a truck

An archive and art project charting the story of polar bears and their displacement from the Arctic wilderness to the museums and stately homes of the UK arrives this week at Worcester Museum.

nanoq: flat and bluesome, grew out of an artistic survey conceived by artist duo Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson to find every stuffed polar bear in the UK.

Between 2002 and 2004 the pair, who say they are interested in "exploring relationships between human and non-human animals in the contexts of history, culture and the environment", tracked 33 specimens.

They photographed them in situ and documented their histories - the place of capture or shooting, the name of the person responsible, the nature or purpose of the expedition, the bear's history in captivity and its age at death. Among the bears they found is the baby bear at Worcester City Museum.

A film called nanoq: the journey documents one part of this project - the transport and installation of 10 stuffed polar bears from around the country into the exhibition space at Spike Island, Bristol.

A screening of the film takes place at George Polke Gallery in London on Saturday, December 12 between 12pm and 6pm, alongside Luminous Books, an artist-curated bookshop. Signed copies of nanoq: flat out and bluesome: A Cultural Life of Polar Bears will also be on sale.

The lavishly illustrated document includes a short story by Patricia Ellis and essays by leading academics discussing taxidermy and photography, trophy hunting and the increasingly frequent use of animals in contemporary art.

Exhibition and archive opens today (November 26) at Worcester Museum and Art Gallery, then Manchester Museum from February 12 2010.

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