(Whale signs and animal tracks)
Pernille Kløvedal Helweg
Prints made by and from animals
It all started with a turtle. The artist was interested in turtles and their symbolical mening. Eventually she started having them crawl over print plates, thus creating printworks. This must have been so inspiring that she went on to other animals and birds, like seagulls, penguins, rats, bears, elephants, etc. I guess she started with the small ones and then got bigger and bigger animals. Then at some point she must have wanted to be in control of the prosess, and started printing with dead dolphins and ultimately a whale. Their bodies were hoisted onto print plates, creating a base for etchings.
It began with a turtle - prints made by turtles
Documentation videos show how seagulls land on the plates and start fighting for the food left there, a bear scratches the bronze plate that covers the entrance, a penguin is forced to walk on a print plate. The process of printing with dead dolphins and the whale is also shown.
The results are rather abstract prints. On some it is possible to identify the footprints of the species, on others you are kept wondering who it might be. There is a story behind every print: Was the animal tricked there by food, or was it forced there? The process and the "real" artist become as important as the actual prints. I am reminded of artist Morten Viskum that paints with a dead human's hand, where also the tool becomes more important than the artwork. Are the animals only tools to Pernille Kløvedal Helweg? Or are the works rather a praise to the natural movements and traces of animals? At least the animals are not caught or killed to be part of the art. They were already in the zoo or stranded on the beach. But apart from the seagulls being fed, the animals are mostly unvoluntary participants.
Lion, muskrat, polar bear, elephant etc.
Etching of an entire whale
I am thrilled by the creativity of making these artworks, but I also spot some morally questionable issues. Is it OK to use animals for our own purposes? After all, is not that what we do all the time, using their meat, skin, or just for amusement? And I wonder: after going up in sizes from turtles to whales, what is next? Is this a dead end, or will she move in another direction?