My recent work ‘feeler’, 2019 is a collaboration with the artist Bruce Mowson, under the name mOwson&M0wson. This work responded to research into breeding and raising Octopuses and attempts to exploit their reproduction as ‘meat animals’.
lynn mowson boobscape (2016-2018) Photo: Kerry Leonard
In the installation boobscape the multiplicity of mammaries alludes to the massification of mammals kept in the cycle of pregnancy and lactation for our consumption. I reference to the multi-breasted humans throughout art history, including many breasted goddesses such as Artemis often representative of nature that is bountiful and nurturing. However boobscape is a reference to a nature that is exploited and wearied, with little regard to her nourishment and wellbeing.
Breasts, so often focused upon as sexual body parts, here become part of the feminist reworking of the radical potential of the monstrous body – the leaking, lactating, pregnant bodies – bodies out of control and uncontained. These heavy hanging mammary forms cross species boundaries, clusters of breasts/ udders/ teats/ nipples link shared mammalian experiences of pregnancy and lactation, of nurturing and loss. The truly monstrous, to me, is the manipulation of the reproductive capacities of domesticated mammals, in the pursuit of milk and its byproducts.
Earlier my sculptural practice was concerned with the suffering body. My exhibition beautiful little dead things, 2014, was comprised of a series of sculptures created in response to the lives and deaths of dairy cows, and in particular the slaughter of fetal calves and the use of their skins for the luxury leather ‘slink’. The exhibition consisted of an installation of latex skins; adultforms, babyforms, sacs and screens – slink, and wax fleshforms; bodies in varying states of fragmentation, from the full body to the fleshy lump – fleshlumps.
These sculptures reveal a process of traumatic witnessing; they are contradictory objects, with no singular reading, they draw attention to the violence of fragmentation and the precarious nature of empathy. Whilst these objects bear traces of violence, mass-production and dis-assembling; they are torn, flayed, rent and ‘butchered’, each object is also tended to, cared for and completely unique. The tension between violence and care in my work is, I suggest, a consequence of the trauma of witnessing and bearing witness to animal suffering. My Phd ‘beautiful little dead things: empathy, witnessing, trauma and animals’ suffering’, 2015 can be accessed online here.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Dr lynn mowson is a sculptor whose practice is driven by the entangled relationships between human and non-human animals, in particular agricultural animals. Her sculptural research has been featured the books The Art of the Animal, Lantern Press, 2015, Carol J Adam’s Neither Man nor Beast, Bloomsbury, 2018, and her work was used on the front cover of the edited collection Animaladies, Bloomsbury, 2018. She has exhibited widely in Australia, and her work was included in SPOM: Sexual Politics of Meat at The Animal Museum, LA, in 2017 and OktoLab in 2019. lynn is currently Vice-Chair of the Australasian Animals Studies Association. Further information can be found at her blog: www.lynnmowson.com