Caged – by Louise Pallister

British artist Louise Pallister made this haunting film of the thylacine in 2014. Pallister explains:

The work derives from my fascination with the few minutes of zoo footage of the thylacine in Hobart zoo, pretty much the only evidence we have of this unique creature as a living being. Coming across this footage marked a turning point in my work as an artist concerned with depicting animals. My studies led me to re-evaluate the way in which I represented animals, uniting it with my interest in conservation and animal ethics. It no longer seems adequate to make fully representational studies of animals that have disappeared from the earth or are in danger of doing so.

Returning to the film, I made a large scale drawing, or drawings (nearly 300 in fact), stopping the archive film every few frames to draw the stages of the thylacine’s movement in charcoal, photographing it and then erasing in long sweeps so that the remaining markings were barred like a cage and redrawing over it.  I made the resulting photographs into a stop motion animation, in which the repetitive process of working and reworking mirrors the pacing characteristic of so many captive animals. Making a drawing of an animal is different to looking at a film of it, both for me in the time spent making and observing it, and hopefully for the viewer with the opportunity to consider again a sense of loss and intangibility on seeing the thylacine repeatedly made and unmade.

My practice now wholly concerns animals that are extinct, threatened or captive: I have another body of work concerning Martha, the last passenger pigeon. Again much of this work depicts the absence of the animal by marking out the space where it should be or erasing elements of it.”

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