Sari Carel: The Coyote After-School Program

Friday, Nov. 15, 2019
Melanie Flood Projects
420 S.W. Washington St.
Portland, Oregon

The following description was submitted by the event organizer.

Melanie Flood Projects is pleased to announce The Coyote After-School Program, a solo presentation by New York-based artist Sari Carel. The exhibition will open Friday, November 15 with a reception from 6-8 p.m. and will be on view through  December 21, 2019. 

The Coyote After-School Program revisits Joseph Beuys’ seminal 1974 Action, I Like America and America Likes Me, in which Beuys spent three days in the Rene Block Gallery with a wild coyote. A landmark in the annals of Fluxus, the action is revisited via a feminist prism, contemporary research on animal behavior and personhood, and engages with the interdisciplinary field of animal studies.

Images of the coyote action are among the most resilient and generative to come out of Beuys's performance work, but they are also some of the most problematic. In the hindsight of 45 years, the coyote action comes across as paternalistic and anthropocentric as it perpetuates romantic notions of nature, the creative process and the mystical figure of the male artist. When watching documentation of I Love America one sees a stressed animal forced to engage in interactions that pay little attention to how it receives the artist’s overtures and its lived experience during those three days.

This project is facilitated by Carel’s work with animals as a behaviorist alongside her studio practice. Using associative learning principles, interspecies communication and a series of collaborative actions are performed together with a companion animal: a species that can enjoy and willingly participate in novel interactions with humans.

During a day of filming in late 2018, which took place at A.I.R. Gallery – the N.Y.C. feminist art collective, the poem "A Quadratic Equation" by  Robert Bringhurst was performed with Iris, a five-year-old rescue dog. The words are translated into a series of gestures and visual cues, as dogs look to us for information much more than listen for it. Throughout the day, playful experimentation was the guiding force, both at the heart of a creative practice but also essential to the way animals explore the world around them and thrive within it.  

Upcoming Dates & Times

Nov. 15