Vanishing Point: Where Species Meet is a three-channel video work commissioned for the Gothenburg Biennial 2011, by the curator, Sarat Maharaj. The brief was for a site-specific, relational work: Vanishing Point focused on the roof of the main Biennial building, Roda Sten, situated on the River Gota waterfront. Research included acquiring knowledge of and developing sensitivity towards the site, including the various species of gulls, their diet and behaviour and was conducted through discussions and interviews with local fishermen, birdwatchers and pavement café owners in the area.
The performance-based HD video work documents a meeting between a human and various species of gull around a custom-built table at which food is prepared and shared. The table, designed by the artists, also played a crucial role in generating and testing our ideas concerning notions of sharing and hospitality across species.
Vanishing Point can be seen as a critique on the legacy of how Christian values have been interpreted and together with Cartesian objectivity, have placed anthropocentrism and human interests at the heart of our conceptions of the world, to the detriment of a potentially more ecological consciousness. Such viewpoints have contributed to a dislocation between human beings and the wider environment rendering it largely as a series of resources and sites for exploitation. The project asks how performance, involving the free will and participation of non-human others, may be used to test ideas of parity. Vanishing Point sets out, site-specifically to reconfigure ideas of notoriety and interspecific social order. How can art and aesthetic presentation contribute to the reappraisal and rehabilitation of a known pariah? In the context of long-established scientific rationale and religious dogma, is it possible, through the processes and actions of art constructively to effect new audience-awareness of interspecific interdependence?
Vanishing Point was shown in 2014 on a vast exterior wall at the State Darwin Museum in the Russian capital. For the first three weeks in February, the video was screened each evening between 6.30 and 11.00 pm and was seen as something of an antidote to the long winter nights in Moscow.
The Darwin Museum’s publicity for the screening explained: “This gift is not only for visitors, but for those who are waiting at the bus stop or passers-by. No matter how fast you race past, there’s time enough for it to catch the eye. Blue sky, wind, unity and harmony between man and nature – something sorely lacking in the big cities.”