Carla Bengtson

Mouse Trap With Raisin, Peanut, Butter, Cranberry, Peanut Butter, Cheese, and Crackers, 2010 (9 days 9 baits)

Falling Out Spilling
Lately I’ve been tinkering with the idea of what falls out, or escapes, and what spills over, or returns, from every net of understanding we attempt to cast over nonhuman nature. My FALLING OUT SPILLING OVER projects invent a possible impossible space for interspecies communication by inserting art objects and media (photographs, paintings, sculptures, video, sound, technological devices) into the umwelten, or lifeworlds, of nonhuman others. My aim is to create playful, open-ended situations that demonstrate both the desire and the impossibility of becoming-other, while opening-up a potential site for nonhuman actors to perform an intervention on the hold that culture presently has on culture by returning unexplored perspectives, unfelt sensations, and unthought understandings from non-human culture to human culture.

In Mouse Trap, executed last Fall during an artist’s residency at the Ucross Foundation in Clearmont, Wyoming, (USA), I tried to tempt a studio mouse onto a photographic surrogate of my hand to see if I could experience its touch in proxy. Over the course of 9 days I placed 9 different baits on my “hand” and waited atop a ladder, camera poised for action. The mouse never touched my “hand”.

Carla Bengtson is an Associate Professor in Art and an Associate Member of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon. Previously to coming to the UO, she taught at Yale University, Connecticut College, Wesleyan University, and was Head Curator of the John Slade Ely House, Center for Contemporary Art in New Haven, Connecticut. She holds a BFA from Tyler School of Art, an MFA from Yale School of Art, and was a two-time participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program.

She has received numerous awards, including a Ucross Foundation Residency Fellowship, an NEA Individual Grant for Artists, and multiple research grants and awards from the University of Oregon and Yale University. Selected exhibitions include JayJay Gallery, Sacramento, San Francisco Fine Art Fair, Art Fair Miami, RKL Gallery, New York, the Painting Center, New York, the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Quartersaw Gallery, Portland, the Holter Musuem of Art, and multiple university exhibitions. She has been a guest lecturer at Brown University, Reed College, Pratt Insitutue, the Chicago Art Institute, the University of Washington, and RISD, and has lectured on environmental thought at International Environmental Philosophy Conferences and International Biodiversity Conservation Conferences in the US, Canada, and South America.