Scarborough Art Gallery to unveil The Ant-ic Museum – a new exhibition by Feral Practice

Power, sex, deception, family, and work – a new exhibition opening at Scarborough Art Gallery this autumn draws parallels between the complex social structures of humans and ants.

By Louise Perrin
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 12:10 pm
The Ant-ic Museum - Mushroom Farming, 2021 - walnut ink and urine on paper cut, collage. 60 x 55cm © Feral Practice
The Ant-ic Museum - Mushroom Farming, 2021 - walnut ink and urine on paper cut, collage. 60 x 55cm © Feral Practice

Three new sculptures will bring the iconic shape of the wood ant nest into dialogue with ancient and modern human architectural forms.

Audio and video works embedded into these sculptures will look intensely at the wood ant sisterhood of Broxa Forest in the North York Moors National Park, and reveal the surprisingly widespread influence of ants on human culture.

A wall installation of collages, drawings, videos and text, its sprawling structure evoking the tunnels and chambers of the ant nest, will explore topics important to ants and human alike, such as farming, power, sex, deception, family, and work.

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The Ant-ic Museum - Architecture, 2021 - paper cut, collage. 36 x 27cm © Feral Practice

Feral Practice said: “Ants and humans, while they look and sound rather distinct, share some uncanny similarities in several aspects of their culture. The Ant-ic Museum takes ants seriously as producers of complex societies, and asks: ‘What might the museum display if curated by ants?’

“In meeting ants halfway, and by creatively addressing how an exhibition might be guided by ants’ preferences and interests, I aim to offer an original perspective on the human condition, and challenge the assumed centrality of a homogenised ‘human’ as the originator and dispenser of knowledge.”

Exhibition curator Dorcas Taylor said: “We are delighted to be collaborating again with Feral Practice, this time turning our attention to non-human worlds.

"The exhibition is a playful exploration of the world from an ant colony’s perspective. However, it also puts across a more subtle and important message about how our human ecology is intertwined with the natural world.

The Ant-ic Museum - Power, 2021 - oak gall ink and formic acid on paper cut, collage. 34 x 33cm © Feral Practice.jpg

"Humans and non-humans are mutually dependent and these connections are becoming ever more fragile. When they are disrupted, this will have profound consequences for every living thing.

“At Scarborough Museums Trust, we want to make a positive impact on the world around us, supporting people to become better connected to the natural world.

"This is part of our wider commitment to environmental sustainability. Getting closer to nature locally opens up the opportunity to think about the wider impacts we, as humans, have on the world.”

Feral Practice worked with Scarborough Museums Trust last year, creating The Unseeables (a tale of extinction in three birds), one of a series of new digital commissions as part of the Trust’s response to the pandemic.

Feral Practice

The film will be on screen at the gallery throughout The Ant-ic Museum, and is still available to view here: Practice works with human and non-human beings as to create art projects and interdisciplinary events that develop ethical and imaginative connection across species boundaries.

Their research draws on artistic, scientific and subjective knowledge practices to explore diverse aesthetics and create suggestive spaces of not knowing nature.

Feral Practice’s The Ant-ic Museum can be seen at the Gallery from Saturday October 2 2021 to Sunday January 30 2022.

Scarborough Art Gallery is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Monday (plus Bank Holidays).

Entrance is free with a £3 annual pass, which also allows unlimited free entry to the Rotunda Museum.