Carl Marin’s first solo exhibit, now up at FLUXspace, is one of the most unusual things you’ll see this summer. Marin, who is a former student of Libby’s and mine at Tyler, is showing a small body of work based on two very large projects. Both involve animals, and one involves taxidermy.
Marin, whose late father had a taxidermy business, grew up doing things like spear fishing and hunting. He’s always had a conflicted relationship with the hunt. And over time, he’s developed thoughts about wild animals and how “nature” is something we mostly experience in natural history museums, where dioramas of taxidermied animals pretend to give us the real experience of being in the wild.
If you listened to our podcast interview with Carl (March 21) you might remember that he was reading Moby Dick a while back. As with many of us who read Moby Dick, he was slogging through it and he didn’t really finish the book. But the story of the whale hunt stuck with the artist, and if you look closely at this piece, you can see that Marin has created a Magritte-ian conflation of Captain Ahab’s hunt for the white whale and somebody else’s successful deer hunt. America’s level of obsession with animals and their mythological presence in our lives is part of what this is about.
Carl doesn’t hunt deer, he told us. But he does stalk them with his camera. The project above is from a photo shoot Marin did with deer at Yellow Springs. The artist set up a deer blind and a specific, diorama-like box with food for the deer. Then he waited and snapped a bunch of pictures. At FLUXspace, you can see a time-lapse video the artist made of the sequence of shots taken as the deer came and went over the many days and nights of the project. Among other animals that came to the feed were squirrels, a fox, many birds, a raccoon.
At the opening, the reception table at FLUX was set up downstairs and included a bottle of Wild Turkey. In front of the table was a bench that looks remarkably like a museum bench (it was made by the artist), and on the walls were a large photo of what looks like a natural history museum diorama of wild turkeys, and a bronze plaque explaining the wild turkey project the artist undertook at Penny Pack Ecological Trust in Huntingdon Valley.
“Its similar to my last project with the deer at Chester Springs, only this one is targeted towards a rafter of turkeys that roam the grounds,” the artist told me. “The hut is acting as a blind that I will be photographing the turkeys from. The park rangers are putting food out 25 feet in front of the hut daily.”
Marin is going off to graduate school at Virginia Commonwealth University this fall. Sometime in the near future, he will be creating a public art piece at Sturgis Playground in Olney. The young artist won the $20,000 commission to build a fence that will “create the illusion of deer grazing on the other side,” he says. The piece is based on an animation technique you can see in action here.
Many of us love animals and nature. here’s an artist who comes to the subject with a fresh take on things and who’s neither talking down to us from a pulpit nor raising alarms about endangered species. He’s just asking us to think about the animals and slow down and take a good long look.
My flickr set has more images from the show.