Peaceable Kingdom by Andrea Gardner and Brit Bunkley
Peaceable Kingdom explores ideas around home and habitat, domesticity in relation to the natural world and our ongoing relationship with animals and the environment. The title Peaceable Kingdom refers to an eschatological state found in various Biblical texts. Eschatology is “concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the ‘end of the world’ or ‘end time’”.*
Edward Hicks, an American painter in the 1800’s created many paintings under this title. The sculpture is also influenced by the fever-induced hallucinations of the character Aguirre in Werner Herzog’s film Aguirre, the Wrath of God.
The sculpture explores the concept of “end time” (eschatology) as well as the complex relationship between humans and animals. In the history of art one sees this animal/human story as hugely complicated; animals are loved, revered, worshiped, protected, feared, hunted, eaten, enslaved, tortured, studied, dissected and sacrificed. In the 21st century the story continues to evolve. Enter the ethicists, biologists, climate change scientists and environmentalists, all with a clarion call to respect our natural world, including all the life forms that co-exist with us. Loss of habitat, loss of biodiversity and the ever-growing presence of man-made elements in our environment are more than deeply troubling.
As William Cronon writes: “We need to embrace the full continuum of a natural landscape that is also cultural, in which the city, the suburb, the pastoral, and the wild each has its proper place, which we permit ourselves to celebrate without needlessly denigrating the others.” **
In this work, the chicken, dog and duck are all marooned high up in a tree on man-made structures (chair, coffee table and bed side table) yet at the same time they are oddly free, unpenned and unchained. And they all appear peacefully sitting or sleeping. How did they get there? Has there been a terrible storm? What happened to their human caretakers?
Or, because we so often live side by side with each other (we and the animals), yet each have our own lives, do we wonder about their thoughts and dreams…
Auckland Botanic Garden until 25 February 2018
Eschatology is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the "end of the world" or "end time".
The word arises from the Greek ἔσχατος eschatos meaning "last" and -logy meaning "the study of", first used in English around 1550. The Oxford English Dictionary defines eschatology as "The department of theological science concerned with ‘the four last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell’."
In the context of mysticism, the phrase refers metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine. In many religions it is taught as an existing future event prophesied in sacred texts or folklore.
** From “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature” by William Cronon 1995