Different ways of knowing

Posted on December 13, 2014


Saturday 13th December 2014, 2.00-4.30pm, Aberdeen Art Gallery

This month the D.A.R.T has worked in collaboration with SCAN (Scottish Contemporary Art Network) to present an off campus research session.

David Blyth will speak to social anthropologist Petra Tjitske Kalshoven exploring her research into different genealogies of knowledge and London based artist Alana Jelinek who has just completed a residency in Cambridge Museum of Archeology and Anthropology which produced the site specific intervention and stand alone art work ‘The Forks Tale’. All three speakers will present on their work entering into conversation with each other around the intersections of their practices before opening the discussion up to incorporate feelings and observations from the room.


Petra Tjitske Kalshoven, Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

Towards the lifelike: gestures of taxidermy

Taking inspiration from Carl Ginzburg’s conception of ‘elastic rigour’, an intuitive drive in human knowledge-making-as-divination, I will argue that taxidermy, as a skilled practice of imitation and modelling steeped in morphology, gestures at traces, signs, models, and materials that may seem insignificant but deserve close attention if we want to know what taxidermy can do. I am especially interested in the interplay achieved between movement and stillness in animal mounts, in instances of animation that often came up as topics of discussion during my fieldwork amongst taxidermists in Britain and the Netherlands. Throughout my presentation, I will use contemporary artistic approaches in taxidermy as troublesome challenges to its naturalistic project—the project of achieving lifelikeness.


David Blyth, Contemporary Art Practice, Grays School of Art, RGU

On the Wing: a flight path for Scolopax Rusticola

This is a work-in-progress in the form of a lecture. Beginning with the synchronous arrival of two migrating Woodcock (Scolopax Rusticola) from Scandinavia in early November 2014, the presentation charts the development of a new sculptural inquiry that seeks to re-form the language of taxidermy to provide adequate cultural representation for stuffed birds and animals within a museum context. I will present some of the concerns and challenges encountered when working for dead animals in my care, and the coalescent form of knowledge that emerges during this custodial responsibility. Drawing upon my sustained engagement with the craft skills of taxidermy, the presentation navigates a migratory creative journey towards a different way of knowing the animal.


Alana Jelinek, Artist, AHRC Creative Fellow, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University

The Fork’s Tale as Narrated by Itself

was a project that happened over 2013. Throughout the year, a chapter a month was written by Alana Jelinek and published by LemonMelon every month (12 chapters 12 months). The art-novel contains writing and drawings from the point of view of a nineteenth century Fijian ‘cannibal fork’ in the collection of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge and is an attempt by the ‘cannibal fork’ to understand its identity, the collectors and the collections of other things that now surround it. It is written from a naive but not un-intelligent point of view and overall is an attempt at understanding the world in which the ‘cannibal fork’ finds itself. The author of the text cannot be sure whether it was used for cannibalism or even whether it was ever used as a fork given all the information it has at its disposal. All quotes in the novel are drawn from what was actually said or written by someone at some point. By contrast, all the conversations amongst the objects are fictive. Humans in the stories are understood as collectors because all humans collect both stories and things and so the novel also becomes about genealogies of knowledge.

For further information on David’s current exhibition and profile’s for Alana and Petra see:




The event is open to the public


Posted in: 2014/15