For many of us, the world seems to be one of immense performance where we must both perceive and perform our respective roles. The Australian artist Linda Tegg is fascinated by the notion of ‘the natural’ as a cultural construct. Her video investigations are designed to get closer to an understanding of how we frame reality, and the experience on which we draw to do so.
Goats under surveillance.
Goat Study is a series of investigations made on site at the Centre d’Art Neuchâtel. The work explores relational realities, the body in space, and the notion of ‘the natural’ as a cultural construct by artist Linda Tegg.
She uses performance, photography and video in various configurations to explore viewing experience, both temporally and spatially, as well as what can happen during that experience.
In Goat Study both the camera and pedestal position the goat’s body in space. By returning the empty pedestal and videos to the site she creates a commemorative space, the apex of the pedestal empty, leaving only traces of what had once been.
The goats in this work may act as metaphors, but simultaneously offer the prospect and awareness of perceptual systems that create alternative realities to our own.
Goat Study 1a:
Two goats enter a gallery and stand on marks positioned in the space. They then exit.
Goat Study 2
A goat stands on a pyramid in a gallery space while a camera circles around.
Goat Study 3
6 goats move freely around a gallery space with a pyramid in the centre. 1 goat is then instructed to climb to the top of the pyramid
Goat Study 4
Goat walks into frame and stands on mark Duration: 3min
Press Review by Dylan Ranforth for the The Sydney Morning Herald:
Animal Magic. Linda Tegg has ignored at least half of the famous injunction to never work with children or animals – the artist recently travelled to the Centre d'Art Neuchâtel in Switzerland, where she introduced a small herd of goats into the gallery.
Tegg has previously worked with a range of trained animals in her videos, performances and photography – it was a skillful sheep that caught the Swiss curator's eyes.
As for the sheep's biblical offsider, "for centuries the goat has been cast as a symbol of unruliness,lust and Satan ... The animals in my work come with an enormous range of associations and cliches but I try to look beyond that," Tegg says. (...)
The work (Goat Study Part 2) was later shown at the City Gallery Wellington in New Zealand. Introduction to the work:
Exhibition furniture is as familiar to gallery audiences as it is often invisible. The white plinth fits seamlessly into an environment typically defined by its austere cleanliness, clear light and sheer modernist architecture. A goat: less typical. In Linda Tegg’s work a young goat stands atop its triangular plinth. Pristine and monochromatic itself, but for its occasional restive movements the goat too could be art object, an extension of its environment, and certainly it’s the protagonist and performer in the context of this video.
Goat Study Part 2 is part of a series of related works by the artist, in which she stages the juxtaposition of what is ‘natural’ with codes of behaviour and conventions of display that govern spaces dedicated to aesthetic experience. Often involving animals, these works re-inhabit spaces we are familiar with—hotel rooms, galleries and other public buildings—so that we see them quite differently. To see a Mexican Grey wolf calmly stationed in a suburban twin-share is to reconsider ‘wildness’ and domesticity. It also brings into question what it means to perform to camera, the role of documentary, and distinctions we might make between environment, habitat, and site, a word prevalent in discussion around contemporary art.
A herd animal, the goat has the slightly uncomfortable air of one dislocated from its regular social and physical context. In its shifting movements we might recognise the sometimes veiled restlessness of human behaviour in a gallery, perhaps those of someone unsure if they are watching or being watched. Working always with domesticated and trained goats, and in close collaboration with their handlers, Tegg is interested in the layers of performance implicit in every viewing experience, and how a gallery is also a space of surveillance.
Filmed in the immaculate Centre d’art Neuchâtel in Switzerland, in this work the camera pans its subject with relentless focus. All poise and dignity, the goat ultimately seeks to exit the stage.
The production took place at the Centre d’Art Neuchâtel, Switzerland in August 2011.