Tapping the Admiral

Tapping the Admiral

Amanda Nedham

From October 7th to November 2nd
Opening October 9th, 2009 from 7-10pm

“It starts around the eyes and spreads out from there. A look that could tempt one to lie down with him under the Harrow…The man simply begins to decipher the inscription. He purses his lips as if he is listening. You’ve seen that it is not easy to figure out the inscription with your eyes, but our man deciphers it with his wounds.”

~ In the Penal Colony, 1919, Kafka

Nedham reinterprets the especially cruel torture machine from In the Penal Colony and uses it as a tool to compliment an assemblage of specimens culled from natural history museums around the world. The utilization of impossible and elaborate devices, absurd in application, raises each animal to a site of reverence, where it is their wounds which beg to be deciphered. In the face of such custom cruelty, the machine comes to represent almost ceremonious sacrifice, positing each animal as martyr at the disposal of humans through the exaggerated gesture of individualized torment. Aligning each body with a different type of human preservation reflects Nedham’s interest in looking at the specimens not as objects, but as historians, each capturing a very specific story which can be read off of the body and in the context of display. The machines provide a place where the viewer can engage intimately with each narrative, suggesting alternative histories and opening them up to possibilities in the realm of the romantic and inevitably tragic.