Alpha #4 : scheme for a drawing experiment
This project took place at MEANTIME in Cheltenham, UK, in September 2012, continuing a series of artworks and texts that have attempted to retrace the life of one particular experimental animal.

Project summary
Alpha #4 is part of a continuing project to investigate and retrace a drawing experiment. Hunched over a desk, studying publications gathered from the ‘withdrawn’ stock of libraries, the artist/researcher delves into the history of comparative psychology. The aim is to unearth the records of one particular test subject, a female chimpanzee named Alpha, born in the 1930s. During her life in captivity Alpha developed a drawing habit that became the topic of experiment, written up and published in 1951.

In this retrieval project, traces of Alpha including scientific texts, photographs, charts, diagrams and, strangest of all, reproductions of the marks drawn by the animal herself, are brought to light and re-examined. Alpha becomes a figure with which to investigate the liminal status, instrumental value and captive existence of generations of laboratory animals, bred and raised to serve as surrogates in the quest for human self-knowledge. The act of retracing Alpha’s marks becomes an obsessive labour of biography.

Events:
Opening presentation: Friday 7 Sept 2012
Concluding presentation and discussion: Friday 28 Sept 2012

Read post about this project on MEANTIME blog HERE

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