Arrested Anthropomorphism

An exhibition of artists Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson‘s series of polar bear photographs (entitled nanoq: flat out and bluesome), a complete (or near-complete) archive of mounted polar bears in British collections, is currently on display at the Manchester Museum.

Manchester Museum, University of Manchester.

Eureka Museum for Children, Halifax.

Residence of Lord and Lady Puttnam, London.
This bear is probably the most recent specimen to arrive on British shores. It was purchased by Lord and Lady Puttnam in 1999 at the famous Deyrolle taxidermy shop in Paris.

Somerleyton Hall, Suffolk.

Private Residence, Somerset.
Once resident at Fox’s Glacier Mints, this specimen was bought from the factory in 1973 by the present owner’s sister and presented to him on his twenty-first birthday.

The exhibition is part of the Museum’s The Evolutionist: A Darwin Extravaganza series of events and runs until July 11, 2010. The accompanying publication nanoq: flat out and bluesome: A Cultural Life of Polar Bears (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2006) is available at the Museum shop. Entry to the exhibition is free.

See my review of the exhibition here.

All images courtesy of the artists Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson.

6 thoughts on “Arrested Anthropomorphism

  1. This is very tragic, these pictures. It is as dreadful as the massacre of whale and elephant, cognisant beings all. I have a small, quite old, tusk ivory Inuit carving of a polar bear, hand-sized, often given to children. It is my dear companion. Unless this exhibition comes with any sort of discussion of the immanent demise of the polar bear, it must be seen as voyeuristic and colonial.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Absolutely, those are exactly the issues the artists draw attention to. The exhibition is accompanied by both a visitor leaflet and a catalogue discussing colonialism, hunting/trophies, environmentalist concerns, etc. – the ‘darker’ underpinnings of museum collecting and display. The original project also included workshops, talks and discussions with the public.

  3. Hi Marion welcome back. An exhibition of photos of stuffed polar bears? Unusual & intriguing. Dare I mention I’ve always wanted a polar bear skin rug for in front of the fireplace?
    ~MadSilence to&w

  4. Pingback: In death, immortality « MadSilence

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