Lin May SaeedArrival of the Animals
The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, USA
The Clark presents the first museum solo exhibition of artist Lin May Saeed. Throughout her career, Saeed (b. 1973, Würzburg, Germany) has focused on the lives of animals and the human-animal relationship. She is a sculptor of free-standing figures and reliefs who favors “poor” materials such as polystyrene to create works that are both exquisitely delicate and, given their chemical composition, likely to outlast human civilization. She also creates sculptures in distinctive formats such as back-lit paper silhouettes and welded steel gate-like forms. Her visual references range from Greco-Roman sculpture and German Expressionism to the graphic language of natural history tableaux.
Saeed’s work dramatizes power dynamics and kinships both within and among species. Drawing on diverse theological traditions, zoological research, and her own chimerical imagination, she explores animal subjugation, liberation, and harmonious cohabitation with humans. Empathy, humor, and a lightness of touch combine with a radical reimagining of everyday life and a sense of how animality is intertwined with otherness, and indeed the animalization of humans.
The Clark’s career-spanning exhibition, presented in the Lunder Center at Stone Hill, includes Saeed’s works on and with paper, as well as her works in Styrofoam, steel, and bronze. The exhibition begins with prints and drawings from the Clark’s collection—selected with the artist—that reconsider the (art) history of the human-animal relationship, and its possible alternatives. The exhibition’s title, taken from a short story by Nobel laureate Elias Canetti, “Ankunft der Tiere,” dramatizes the appearance of animals in humans’ modern moral calculus and, simultaneously, their departure from everyday life in post-agrarian societies and a new era of mass extinction.
The exhibition is curated by Robert Wiesenberger, the Clark’s associate curator of contemporary projects. A catalogue, published by the Clark and distributed by Yale University Press, accompanies the exhibition.