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Elise rasmussen
A Poetic Truth in a Pathetic Fallacy
Experimental doc. | hdv | color | 16'0'' | Canada / South Africa | 2017
A Poetic Truth in a Pathetic Fallacy considers ways in which human-kind has been fascinated by and has misinterpreted the rhinoceros, exploring the urgency to keep this genus from extinction while considering the lingering effects of colonialism and collection. Over the past decade the trafficking of rhino horns has gained popularity and both poaching and theft of vintage horns has risen dramatically. Horns were traditionally used in Eastern medicine and although scientists have concluded they have no health benefit, this has not dissuaded the market and its value has risen due to its newfound status as a luxury good. This is not the first time that the rhino has been misconstrued. In 1515 Albrecht Dürer created his famous woodcut based off of a written description of the rhinoceros. Although grossly inaccurate, his artwork served as the prototype for future depictions of rhinos up until the mid-19th century. In South Africa today, the lingering effects of colonialism and apartheid are at the root of poaching. In the male-dominated industry of wildlife protection, the Black Mambas [all female] Anti-Poaching Unit has been gaining international recognition for their efforts. Although beloved by the media, the Mambas risk their lives and struggle to support their families while protecting the wildlife that serves the interests of white landowners. This project is a multi-layered investigation into the link between globalization and extinction, using the poaching of the rhinoceros and its horn to speak about the relationship between bodies, labor, desire and the contested territory of representation.
Elise Rasmussen (born 1977, Edmonton, Canada; resides in Brooklyn, NY) is a research-based artist working in photography, video and performance. Her work has been exhibited, performed and screened at international venues including the Brooklyn Museum (NY), the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), CCS Bard Hessel Museum (Annandale-on-Hudson), Night Gallery (LA), Pioneer Works (NY), and Erin Stump Projects (Toronto). Elise received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a Merit Scholarship (2007) and is a 2017-2018 artist in residence at LMCC’s Workspace program in Manhattan.