And so, dear friends, it has been a while and there is much to report! Though this blog has been quiet, much activity has been teeming below the surface in the cybernetic-studio-hive-space. Since we last spoke, I have been busily repairing and rebuilding two hundred and twenty-five of your contributed bees with discarded jewelry, electronics and computer parts. This brings the running total of taxidermied bees up to three hundred!
An important progression in the narrative of this work has been to begin to incorporate stop motion animation into my studio practice. This approach is a natural departure from taxidermy as it not only restores the broken bees to physical wholeness, in a manner of speaking, it brings them back to life! With this in mind, each of the newest bees have been carefully built with articulating limbs and antenae so that they can be used as stop motion puppets in the animation process.
Over the course of the last several months I have created a short video work called Ideal Bounds which features these bees in a technologically altered beehive. It has been a great honour and pleasure to join forces with Bretten Hannam who was the editor and data technician for this project and Mike Fong who created a beautiful soundtrack of original music. If you are interested in seeing any of this work in person you can take it in as an exhibition titled Ideal Bounds which is currently showing at Struts Gallery and Faucet Media Arts Centre in Sackville New Brunswick. This exhibition includes three hundred bees, the stop motion animation and the video work: Bee taxidermy: A How to Guide. This work will be available for viewing at Struts until April 08. Here are some images of the installed work and opening reception which took place last Friday on March 11. http://www.strutsgallery.ca
Ideal Bounds will be traveling to The New Gallery in Calgary, Alberta in May. If you happen to be in the area, you can see it between May 21 and June 25. http://www.thenewgallery.org
There are more locations and dates in the works which I am hoping to be able to announce to you soon!
I am still accepting submissions of your found dead bees. To review: If you find a bee and would like to contribute it to this project, please send me a message through the May I Have Your Bees Please, Facebook, community page. Once I receive your mailing address, I will send you a bee-kit in the mail which includes: a small container (for the bee), a set of instructions, a small gift (for your trouble) and return postage. I am still gratefully receiving bees in the manner from within Canada and currently have about two hundred which are waiting to be processed.
Here is a revised artist’s statement for this recent work.
Ideal Bounds imagines a hypothetical near-future where the world’s bees have succumbed to colony collapse disorder. This wry, dystopian musing plays with signifiers one finds in present-day museum exhibits depicting species which have become extinct due to human causes. Ruth Marsh has been creating the multi-disciplinary, community engaged series of works which make up Ideal Bounds, since 2011. Contributions of found, dead bees are mailed to Marsh’s Halifax studio from individuals across Canada. The bees are preserved and meticulously repaired using discarded technology. The newly restored bees are then given life, frame-by-frame, through the process of stop motion animation. The hundreds of mended and refurbished bees line shelves in the gallery space, each in its own small, glass case. Viewers are further invited to engage with this grotesque narrative by taking in the DIY instructional video Bee Taxidermy: A How To Guide which demonstrates the step-by-step process of restoring one’s own bee. On an opposite wall, the stop-motion work, Reanimate, presents a vision of a cybernetically altered hive populated by bee automatons. This work plays with themes of environmental loss through practical, labour intensive and repetitive explorations of radical transformation: life to death, reality to memory and the surrealistic degradation of information that occurs with each successive change of state. What is left after each phase gains more and more the uncanny strangeness of a close yet unfaithful copy and what is created in the end is something else altogether: an irrevocably altered, transubstantiated other.