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Participating artist



Rachel Harrison
Installation view ZKM | Museum of
Contemporary Art 2007
© Rachel Harrison
Photo: ONUK

The following text is included in the catalogue "Rachel Harrison. if i did it" accompanying the exhibition "Rachel Harrison. Voyage of the Beatle", migrosmuseum für gegenwartskunst Zürich, 4/29/-6/24/2007, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, 9/12/-11/4/2007. Text: Heike Munder

The title of the exhibition, Voyage of the Beagle, a reference to Charles Darwin, who published his notes and observations in 1839, later under the same title, becomes our first visible clue to an understanding of Harrison's exhibition.(1) The Beagle was the research ship in which the 22-year-old Darwin left England in 1831 for the five-year sojourn taking in the Cape Verde Islands, the Falkland Islands, the South American coast, the Galapagos Islands and Australia. He observed numerous forms of life and collected fossils. To his great astonishment, on islands lying close together he found the same species of animals, very slightly different from each other in terms of appearance and feeding. The bulk of the data from his journals he later educed in his famous work The Origin of Species – nowadays considered as the basis for the theory of evolution.(2) Here Darwin postulated the theory that these life forms were descended from the same species and had learned to adapt to their environment and circumstances; they should therefore not be observed in isolation but always in the context of the environment in which they secure survival. In the context of this natural historical reference Rachel Harrison has produced a series of photographs bearing the homonymous title, in which she has concentrated on portraits of diverse sculptures and figures. She has photographed display mannequins, stuffed animals (such as a polar bear with a black bow tie), a hedge cut into the shape of a dog, a cat on a vase, wig displays, prehistoric Corsican figures from around 3000BC, figures from museums of anthropology, sculptures in public spaces, and a photograph of the American singer and actress Beyoncé on an LP. Are these all to be read as a reinforcement of evolution theory, as its refutation, or simply as the documented results of Harrison’s own travels?

(1) Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle, London: Penguin Classics, 1980 (First Edition: 1839).
(2) Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, New York: Gramercy, 1979 (First Edition: 1859).

born 1966 in New York
lives and works in New York


B.A. in Fine Art, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

Selected Exhibitions

Voyage of the Beagle, migros museum für gegenwartskunst, Zürich;
Kunsthalle Nürnberg
If I Did It, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
Checking the Tires, Not To Mention The Marble Nude, Galerie Christian Nagel, Köln
New Work, San Francisco MoMA, San Francisco, California
Posh Floored as Ali G Tackles Beck, Arndt & Partner, Berlin; Camden Arts Centre, London
Latka/Latkas, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York
Kunsthall No 5, Bergen, Norwegen
Currents 30: Rachel Harrison, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, USA
Seven Sculptures, Arndt & Partner, Berlin
Perth Amboy, Greene Naftali Gallery, New York