“Gigi Kissing Mustard“, 2010
(modeled after chimpanzee kisses, specifically some of Jane Goodall’s apes)
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About Alison’s work:
From the beginning of my primate projects I have been collecting individual and group histories from scientist and zoo keepers that I have met or read about in my research. These narratives can be epic in scale and uncannily human in the way individuals interact with each other in their quest for power and position. The project,The Four Year War at Gombeis based on Jane Goodall’s discovery that Chimpanzees wage war and are capable of long range planning and strategic thinking. Goodall’s group of chimpanzees lived peaceably together for many years before splitting into two communities, it seems that like us the bloodiest feuds and civil wars are always waged against those whom we have the closest ties to. If this title,The Never Ending Storywasn’t already taken, it would have seemed apt.
Working from Goodall’s remarkably detailed accounts I have developed a script for a two channel video installation that I hope to produce at some later point. In the meantime I am working on a photographic storyboard that is based on the same material. As this project has begun to form I find that I am interested in the problems of working within the limitations of shortened viewing time to tell a complex story. In traditional cinema the longer length of time allows a director to build context for characters, as well as create a space for the viewer to become meaningfully involved in the story. This kind of story telling it seems has pretty much been abandoned by the visual arts in the last century, perhaps it is in resignation that film simply does it better. The more I began to think about working with these stories I began to wonder if the archetypal nature of this story might allow me to work in a more fragmented way yet still retain emotional resonance. For me that is the challenge that engages me.
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