In the past two years, the artist has investigated the escalating chain of events brought about by human presence on Christmas Island gathering a vast array of research materials that merge factual and fictional elements. Photographs, scientific papers, field notes and a few specimens map out lines of invasion and patterns of retreat figuring forth conflictual dynamics of connectedness and isolation.
Since the establishment of the first human settlements in the late 19th century, the ecosystem of Christmas Island—a small volcanic outcrop in the Indian Ocean which was transferred from Singapore to Australia in 1958—underwent dramatic changes. Along with human settlers, several non-indigenous species alighted on the island disrupting its endemic biodiversity. The accidental introduction of invasive species severely impacted the local ecosystem, imperiling the islands’ wildlife and causing the extinction of a number of native biotic forms. For this reason, biocontrol strategies are currently being undertaken to address the ecological emergency and rescue the island’s biosphere. As it turns out, the path to halt extinction and revert to a pre-disturbance state is dotted with poisonous baits, lethal traps, captive breeding programmes, and eradication protocols.
In the past two years, the artist has investigated the escalating chain of events brought about by human presence on Christmas Island gathering a vast array of research materials that merge factual and fictional elements. Photographs, scientific papers, field notes and a few specimens map out lines of invasion and patterns of retreat figuring forth conflictual dynamics of connectedness and isolation. Reaching beyond the specificity of the current case study, the work of The Institute of Critical Zoologists ultimately triggers broader reflections on complicated assemblies of humans and nonhumans, states of vulnerability, and the competition for survival in the age of globalisation.
The Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ) is a collective of professional scientists, historians, writers, anthropologists and artists. It aims to reconfigure the ways in which natural history and ecological research findings are presented and experienced, taking the natural sciences beyond the confines of the laboratory and research circles.
The ICZ’s work straddles a myriad forms: research publication, conferences, installation art, photography, exhibitions and performance. The Institute employs a range of methodologies — from anthropological inquiry to image-making — to create new ways of understanding natural phenomena.
Robert Zhao Renhui is a multi-disciplinary artist and the founder of the Institute of Critical Zoologists. His artistic practice addresses the human relationship with nature challenging accepted parameters of scientific modes of classifications. Over the years, Robert has appropriated codes and convention of documentary photography and museum display to compose narratives. His recent exhibitions include, Fast Forward Festival, Greece, 2018; Jiwa: Jakarta Biennale, Indonesia, 2017; 7th Moscow Biennale, Russia, 2017; 20th Sydney Biennale, Australia 2016 and Discovery Award: Les Recontres d’Arles, France, 2015.
Exhibition opening: 19:00, 21.06.2018
Place: Art_Inkubator / Building C2 / Galeria Fabryki Sztuki / Tymienieckiego 3 Street