PROPOSAL: Exhibition of “The Association for Creative Zoology”
ARTIST: Beauvais Lyons, Director
The Hokes Archives
1715 Volunteer Blvd.
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-2410
CV: Pdf of five page CV is posted at: http://web.utk.edu/~blyons/Lyons5pCV.pdf
For almost 30 years my art has involved various forms of academic parody. I have fabricated and documented imaginary archaeology, biography, history, folk art and medicine as the (self-appointed) Director of the Hokes Archives.
Artistic precedence for my work may be found literary and cinematic traditions of mock-documentation. These include Plato's “Atlantis” as conceived by Ignatius Donnelly, Jorge Luis Borges’ novella “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” Woody Allen’s film Zelig and numerous contemporary artists, such as Norman Daly, Richard Purdy, Lenore Malen, Sarah Smith and others. An additional influence on my work is the history of vernacular art and scientific illustration.
My work has been cited in Lawrence Weschler’s book Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (Pantheon, 1995) and Linda Hutcheon’s book Irony’s Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony (Routledge, 1994). The web site for the Hokes Archives offers a comprehensive account of these projects: http://web.utk.edu/~blyons
THE ASSOCIATION FOR CREATIVE ZOOLOGY:
Recent media attention regarding the Theory of Evolution by religious fundamentalists, who claim that Intelligent Design offers a plausible alternative explanation for creation (and should be taught as legitimate science), has compelled me to work on a project that parodies creationism titled “The Association for Creative Zoology.”
The “Association for Creative Zoology” will require an exhibition space of about 1200 square feet and will consist of two free-standing 5 x 10 x 9 foot tall black wooden and canvas kiosks and other related displays. The project includes prints, photographs, models and other support materials depicting hybrid animals to advocate that “species variation is the result of zoomorphic juncture rather than natural selection” as claimed by evolutionary biologists. On July 21, 2007, for the annual reenactment of the trial of John Scopes in Dayton, Tennessee, I presented one of the kiosks on behalf of the imaginary Association for Creative Zoology. Wearing period clothes, I claimed that the presentation was a facsimile of the original booth presented by the Association in 1925 during the original trial. An eight minute video documenting this project is posted on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op6ARlyPnDc
Like previous projects from the Hokes Archives, my work combines visual art, narrative and performance to explore the ways that art and science, myth and reality, truth and fiction intersect. As a work of academic parody, I intend for my work to function on several levels. Firstly, there is the question whether the work is art or science, imaginary or real. On a second level, while some viewers may understand the “Theory of Zoomorphic Juncture” as scientifically flawed, they may be unclear whether the Association for Creative Zoology really existed in 1925, and whether the presentation is historically accurate. As a work of art that appears to be a facsimile of a historical artifact, this project seeks to raise questions about the role and identity of art. Finally, this exhibition also tests the ways that beliefs about the world are formed.
Since it’s initial presentation at the John Scopes Trial Festival in Dayton, Tennessee, I am expanding the project to include a second kiosk of equal size with additional prints. I am currently in the process of adding fossil and taxidermy components to the project. In conjunction with this proposed exhibition, I am also available to give a mock-academic lecture/performance on the work of the Association for Creative Zoology and will create a printed tract to accompany the exhibition.