The Killing Jar Series by Beth Dow. An Exhibition
(Introduction to the Catalogue text was written by the guest curator, Prof. Antag Onising. A forensic entomologist and psychologist from the Natural History Museum and Research Institute Senckenberg, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.)
It has been my pleasure to curate this first exhibition of the complete works of The Killing Jar Series by Beth Dow. These have been one of my favourite modern art projects to follow over the years and so I had no trouble accepting the invitation to curate this show. Forensic entomology is still a young science in Germany and so the opportunity to raise its profile by association with the contemporary art scene I could not miss.
First I would like to talk a little about my curatorial decisions. I was given many suggestions by the resident curators about possible arrangements to consider, however after looking at the work I decided that the only valid way to present the work would be in alphabetical order by Latin name. This met some resistance from the staff at the gallery but I consider this an obvious arrangement. As they walk through the exhibition the poetic onward march of the Latin will draw the viewer forward and anchor the images in their natural order.
Now I would like to talk about the main text that has been prepared for the exhibition catalogue. After doing some research on the field of potential contributors that included pest control experts, psychiatrists, special effects puppeteers from the B-movie genre, botanical photographers (natural history), and crime scene investigators, it was my pleasure to invite two highly respected and interesting people currently practising in the world of art appreciation.
Terry Feidman has been an art critic for the New York Thursday Evening Post for fifteen years and his contribution to the debate on art has been described as a "solid example of art criticism". Terry struck me as ideal for contributing to this essay because he has a clinical phobia of insects. I felt his unique perspective and art experience would present the perfect counterpoint to our second contributor.
'Buggy' Leidenschaft has been a leading commentator and collector of Dow's work for a number of years and is considered a leading authority on the The Killing Jar Series. He is also the creator of insectfetish.com and speaks publicly on the subject of entomophillia.
Terry and Buggy were brought to the gallery and asked to focus on two works, Cecropia and Cicada. They were then presented with a series of conversation prompts to which they were asked to respond and converse, their conversation being recorded. The complete transcript intended to comprises the catalogue essay.
Some unexpected difficulty was experienced during the recording. Initially it was difficult to convince Terry to come close enough to the artwork for his voice to be picked up on the one microphone we were using. He relaxed after he was provided with dark glasses, a strong drink, and a refill on his prescription of Xanax. The conversation then progressed very interestingly for several hours until, after a short bathroom and coffee break, Buggy was discovered in the bathroom in a compromising position with Cicada in his possession. After he was forcibly separated from the photograph it became evident that it would be impossible to continue the conversation.
I do not consider this experiment to have been a failure however as the conversation that was captured and the transcripts that were subsequently produced offer a fascinating range of contrasting perspectives and opinions. Perspectives and opinions that can only offer the public that attends the exhibition a full spectrum of possible readings that will fully legitimise any and all responses to the work.
Thank you for reading this catalogue and enjoy the exhibition.