A mere one-and-a-half century after the publication of Darwin's The Origin of Species, our evolutionary success dictates quite emphatically that we must change. Simply, we are, as we are, an unsustainable component of our planet's ecosystem. This change has to be self-imposed in a matter of decades, if not sooner.
In A Murder of Crows - An Evolutionary Disaster, the crows have travelled from nature, through domestic environments, to publicly mediated experiences of nature, such as aquariums, back into the sea. There the crows transform into the realm of the subconscious, the place of reckoning and dialogue, unencumbered by the physical necessity to be whole. This mirrors the human need for transformation, where the psyche must change for the body to survive. This is not unprecedented. At some point, what are now the great whales, and others, returned to the oceans. Only, they had millennia to reinvent themselves.
We have an unparalleled, urgent need to intervene with our own success, which directly pits us against our cultural expectations. Among the responses to this paradox has been denial at all levels, including the rejection of science and evolutionary theory. Ironically, the decision to change may well require a willingness to embrace selfless spiritual precepts against learned greed, desire, and dogma. This is also the journey of the crows throughout this series, which itself has evolved, during the collectively and individually felt tumult that is pushing humanity at exponentially increasing speed towards reason or demise.
These images are single exposures, without subsequent collaging in Photoshop. Initially, the images are set up to various degrees. They are then set in motion, sometimes with human and animal participants. At this point not everything that happens can be controlled. This infuses the images with a sense of the irrepeatable photographic moment. Mostly, the scenes play out in rural, domestic, and institutional environments, often in-and-out of water. They were made between 2007-2013. No animals were hurt or stressed to make these images.
This work was digitally captured and printed with archival pigment on Hahnemühle 100% Cotton Photo Rag Baryta high gloss paper. The print dimensions are 20"x30".
André Ruesch, a Swiss-British-American triple national was born in Zürich, Switzerland and grew up in an alpine region known as the Saanenland. Through his half-Jewish/half-Christian mother, he was introduced to questions of identity and 20th century art as part of the small family’s internal culture. Her gallery, which showcased photographers and painters, inspired him in his youth. Photographer Ellen Auerbach was also influential as a family friend.
In the early eighties, while working for a volunteer organization in Asia, Ruesch started to pursue photography. Initially, this became his method for portraying and exploring other cultures. Later, this approach would lead to more conceptualized and abstracted narratives in semi-fabricated tableaus that explore perception, often via surrealistic metaphors. The question of how humanity can survive its own evolutionary success has become central to his current investigations.
Upon returning to Europe, he earned a BA in photographic studies at Napier College in Edinburgh, Scotland. After moving to Albuquerque, Ruesch was awarded an MA and his MFA for graduate studies in photography at the University of New Mexico. While there, his main mentors were Patrick Nagatani, Betty Hahn, and Eugenia Parry.
Ruesch’s work has been internationally exhibited in museums and galleries and published in the British Journal of Photography, Art in America, Asian Art News, Eye-Ai, Through the Lens, Museum of New Mexico Press, and recently Photography At Edinburg Napier University, ENU Press, among others.
He lives in the greater Boston area, Massachusetts, where he is an Associate Professor of Photography at the Lesley University College of Art and Design (LUCAD), formerly the Art Institute of Boston (AIB).
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