Hallie Abelman: Home (not) on the Range
*This exhibition would not have been possible without Skyler (image 1), who always managed to queer the domestic.
The place of animals in human-occupied domestic space is always according to a different set of rules or a divine code of ethics that is either narrowly or loosely defined within each home. It is a very intimate experience inquiring into the inanimate animal objects that humans welcome into their territory. I conduct conversations and activities with various homeowners in the comfort of their homes as a way of engaging with these objects. By drawing, making portraits, writing poems, or rearranging the positions of these objects I began to see the complex ways they have come into our lives and how we have shaped what it means to be human by way of ‘the animal’.
The images above were taken while visiting people in their homes and observing what kind of animal-related decor my friends, family and neighbors have been collecting. This sampling is part of a larger research project about inanimate animal objects and the roles they play in our everyday lives- from teaching children, to remembering loved ones, expelling loneliness, or even embellishing our identities. Many of these objects are precious artifacts, while others will likely be overlooked as ordinary and end up at flea markets. As a researcher, I ask not only which form the objects take, but also where they are placed within a home. Which animal objects belong on the mantle and which belong in the bathroom? I do not only want to think of which species have become widely ‘killable’, but rather which ones are collectable. Mostly, I just want to know if they compensate for the disappearance of live animals from daily life.
“We join the animals
not when we fuck
not when tears fall
staring into light