For ‘Barkers and Biters,’ aMBUSH Gallery, November 2018. Curated by Laura Clement.
‘Remember Me’ is a reimagination of the ‘suicide’ collars fitted to two male dingoes in 2016. The dingoes were trapped in rural Queensland and then released on Pelorus Island to control feral goats. When dingoes and other wild dogs are caught in traps, they are usually killed on sight with a single bullet to the head. Instead, these two males were given a stay of execution until such time as they were no longer ‘useful’ to the feral goat program. Radio tracking units were attached to the collars to allow shooters to locate and kill the dingoes after they had finished their work.
However, the island is rugged and bushy, making a clear shot difficult. A failsafe was built into the collars to ensure the dingoes could be retired: a capsule of 1080 poison, timed to release after two years. 1080 poison is a notoriously inhumane method for killing and is banned in many countries. When the collars released their poison early in 2018, the dogs very likely died a prolonged and painful death.
In the tradition of the Victorian era memento mori, ‘Remember Me’ memorialises the two dingoes of Pelorus Island. The leather collar bears the topographic contours of the island, made from brass needles that protrude through the leather strap.
This work encourages reflection on industrialised killing done under the banner of conservation, along with the scale and euphemism that hide suffering from view.
This story was introduced to me in an eloquent and sensitive post written by Deborah Bird Rose, whose teachings have influenced my way of thinking in deep ways that are difficult to describe. You can read that post here.