Untitled (2009), from the series Norfolk Roadkill, Mainly
My ongoing photo/text series Norfolk Roadkill, Mainly was begun in 2009. It pairs photographs of roadkill that I encounter while cycling the country lanes of Norfolk (UK) with other photographs taken in the area. Christopher Reid’s recent poem “A scattering” reflects on the way that elephants respond when encountering the bones of another elephant that has “dropped to the wayside, picked clean by scavengers.” With deliberation, they “hook up bones with their trunks and chuck them / this way and that way.” In the case of the smaller animals that become Norfolk roadkill, a similar “scattering” has been unwittingly undertaken by cars and lorries, disassembling previously complete bodies in the process. The roadkill photographs in this series record particular moments in that process. The images with which they are paired in each piece range from details of Norfolk’s extensive medieval heritage to close-ups of local natural phenomena such as rock pools. There is no direct thematic connection or systematic relation between the paired images other than their geographical proximity, but the captions always identify the road and date on which the depicted animal or animal trace was photographed.
Work from the Norfolk Roadkill, Mainly series has so far been exhibited in group exhibitions in Minneapolis, Norwich and New Orleans. A portfolio of work from the series is featured in Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, no. 14 (2010), pp. 40-55, at: http://www.antennae.org.uk For a fuller discussion of the work, see Susan McHugh, “Stains, drains, and automobiles: A conversation with Steve Baker about Norfolk Roadkill, Mainly,” in Art & Research, vol. 4, no. 1 (2011), at: http://www.artandresearch.org.uk Separately from the roadkill project, I am also currently preparing a set of artist pages for the forthcoming special issue of the journal Angelaki on “Techne and animality.”
I am an independent writer, researcher and artist, affiliated to the University of Central Lancashire, UK, as Emeritus Professor of Art History. My books include The Postmodern Animal, Picturing the Beast and, with the Animal Studies Group, Killing Animals. My current research explores the distinctive contribution made by contemporary artists to the understanding of the more-than-human world.