Artists: Brook Hsu, Ville Kallio, Angelo Plessas, Anni Puolakka
Exhibition title: Pet Cemetery
Curated by: Christina Gigliotti
Venue: Haus N Athen, Athens, Greece
Date: October 3 – November 2, 2019
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Haus N Athen
The exhibition Pet Cemetery is largely an open contemplation on the notion of immanence and the different ways in which we understand and attempt to achieve it. Signs. Symbols. Voice recordings. Acts of kindness. Acts of violence. Notes scribbled on paper. Relationships formed and broken. Memorials. Bones. Teeth. Fur.
Two friends and I visited an unofficial pet cemetery on one of the last days of our summer holiday in Kiev. After walking through dilapidated housing complexes and past forgotten train stations, headstones started to peak out at us from behind patches of dusty shrubbery and trash piles. E disappeared within moments behind some tall grass to look at the first row of stones. I tramped a bit further in, wondering if this was a foolish idea and if I’d accidentally step on a used needle or something. The graves were close together and amongst detritus so you had to really look where you were stepping. Each headstone portrayed the animal that rested underneath with a portrait image or an engraving and of course, a name. Their names were in Ukrainian so I only figured out a few. Cema the cat. Tim the Rottweiler. Charlie, a chinchilla. Some pets were buried together. Some graves looked really expensive and well-kept while others were fully disappearing back into the earth.
The three of us reconvened at the end of the last row.
“I’m fucking devastated right now.”
“Why is this so much sadder than a normal graveyard?”
“I don’t know, it just feels more real I guess.”
A skeleton sits at the edge of a pond. She watches an old man feed the ducks. She thinks about how her boyfriend smokes too much weed nowadays and feels lonely, ignored.
His mother’s favorite animal was a butterfly. Shortly before his wedding, his mother became ill and passed away within a few months. During the wedding ceremony, flower girls released butterflies from baskets beside the altar where the bride and groom were standing. One of the butterflies landed on his father’s shoulder, and stayed there for the whole ceremony. The whole family took this as a sign that the man’s’ mother had returned as a butterfly to visit them. They cried.
And then I believed that I could be anything