I have been creating this multi-disciplinary, public participatory series of works which focuses on bee extinction since 2011. Contributions of found, dead bees are mailed to my Halifax studio from individuals across Canada. The many hundreds of bees which have reached my studio through the mail are taxidermically preserved and then meticulously repaired using discarded technology. The newly restored bees are then given life, frame-by-frame, through the process of stop motion animation. This wry, dystopian musing combines the signifiers one finds in present-day natural history museum exhibits with the playfulness of stop motion animation to build an uncanny fiction which draws storytelling inspiration from such sources as Bill Burns, Graeme Patterson and Mary Shelley and draws aesthetic inspiration from influences such as Jan Svankmejer and The Brothers Quay.
From the beginning, the project has been publicly interactive. Anyone who has found a dead bee which they wish to contribute may contact me through the Facebook community page May I have Your Bees, Please? I then mail interested participants a bee kit which includes a small box (for the bee), a self addressed stamped envelope, a small gift for participating and a brief questionnaire. More than six hundred bees have been received in this manner; bees continue to arrive at my studio on an ongoing basis. Additionally, participants are encouraged to produce their own taxidermic bees and post images of them onto the page, they are also encouraged to continue to stay connected as news about the project is updated on a regular basis.
Thus far, I have produced around five hundred taxidermic bees, an instructional video titled “Bee Taxidermy: A How To Guide, and a seven-minute stop-motion animated film which together formed the backbone the exhibition Ideal Bounds. This exhibition toured to three artist run centres (The New Gallery, Calgary, AB, Struts Gallery, Sackville NB and Whitewater Gallery, North Bay, On) in 2016. Work from this series has previously been shown at The Confederation of the Arts in Charlottetown PEI, The Craig Gallery in Dartmouth, NS and was recently featured in the Winter 2017 edition of Canadian Art. In addition, the short film Ideal Bounds screened at three film festivals (Locomocion, Experimental Animation Festival, Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, Bideorodromo International Experimental Film and Video Festival, Bilbao, Spain and The Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax, NS). Throughout Winter and Spring 2018, I will be producing a six part stop motion animated video installation which will be shown at Paved Arts Artist Run Centre in Saskatoon, SK in Winter, 2018.
Email your mailing address and you will be sent a “bee kit” which includes: 1. a small container for the bee. 2. a short questionnaire (eg: Where did you find the bee, how do you think it died? etc), 3. a set of instructions, 4. a self addressed stamped envelope, 5. a small gift for participating. All you need to do is drop the container and completed questionnaire into the SASE and drop the package in the mail.
For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Macro Documentation by: Christina Arsenault