Dominic Watson’s new work, YEAST, consists of a single screen film with a musical score that revisits the medieval animal trial of a rooster. Accompanying the gallery exhibition a series of images derived from medieval bestiaries will be disseminated over the course of the show in the advertising pages of the Hackney Citizen. The work poses questions about an anthropocentric worldview and the perils of assuming dominance over nature.
The late Middle Ages saw a struggle between reason and instinct with philosophers trying to define humans as superior in nature to ‘mere animals’. Watson’s film depicts the trial of a rooster, who is accused of crimes against nature for laying an egg, as an allegorical exploration of the assumed transcendence of humans from the realm of nature. The court is held in an abandoned soup factory where the means of production are also the means of punishment. This industrial setting makes the historical context of the film indistinct, challenging our assumptions about the present as inevitably more progressive than the past. The film combines both actors and puppets, illustrating the mechanisms of external and internal control by which we are governed. It is this mind/body dualism that is on trial in the work, with instinct at odds with reason. In YEAST Watson invites sympathy for the animal and questions the supremacy of rational thought by asking the viewer to consider the acts of injustice committed in its name.
The soundtrack of YEAST has been made in collaboration with Daniel Woolhouse.
A commissioned essay on YEAST written by Aleks Pluskowski will be available online and at SPACE.
Dominic Watson (b. Sunderland, UK) is based in Amsterdam. His work is driven by an interest in the cumulative effect of history and culture on our beliefs and desires. He works with puppets, sculpture and performance to create absurd films that humorously reveal the frailty of our constructed consciousness.
His work was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2013) and was shortlisted for the Caitlin Art Prize (2015). In 2016 he exhibited as part of Art Rotterdam and Glasgow International’s satellite programme. He has had solo shows with HUTT Collective, Nottingham (2015), New Studio, London (2015) and BoetzalearNispen (2015).
Supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands