speciesisminart

Olivier Richon’s photograph, ‘The Quarry’ (1995) shows a dead deer attached to a pole in a minimal gallery-type space. His solo show Acedia, at Ibid, Hoxton Square, London has a loose general theme of hunting connecting several of the works. I immediately wonder if the artist is pro or anti hunting, or interested in the debate. Of course, I can’t find out by glancing at the work, if I could, the artist would run the risk of being criticised as didactic, polemical, uninteresting. Instead, what we see is a beautifully lit, carefully composed photograph of a dead deer. It’s as if something poetic is being said but we will never be sure quite what.  In order to produce such an image however, the artist reveals something about himself; that he assumes ownership of the deer. The body of the deer is being used by the artist to say something about his work.  Whatever the artist is trying to say is mediated by animal exploitation and death. Once we see this, it is hard to find anything in the photograph, or any allusion, more interesting, urgent or important than the question of the artist’s own treatment of sentient creatures. Olivier Richon would probably find it crass to discuss his exhibition’s subtle and beautiful photographs in terms of whether or not he is pro hunting, but the reality of the quarry is to be chased to exhaustion and torn apart.