Tête-à-Tête

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The series Tête-à-tête honours Diogenes the cynic, the first cosmopolitan, a citizen of the world and a praiser of dogs.

These two works were made especially for Settle Doon, a group exhibition curated by Place + Platform, and taking place at Settlement Projects, Edinburgh, Scotland (23-30 March 2019). The two works were also exhibited in the group exhibition Wiiralt Prize 2019 at the Estonian National Library, Tallinn, Estonia (7-30 March 2019). They are currently exhibited in The Estonian Artists’ Association’s Spring Exhibition, at Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia (27 April – 9 June).

Scattered across myriad cultures and time periods, we find examples of cynanthropomorphisation – the attribution of canine characteristics to humans. Numerous myths tell of creatures who inhabit the threshold of a society, whose characteristics are part-human, part-dog. As a term of abuse, ‘dog’ marginalises, defines otherness, and imagines a person on the borders, almost human, almost domesticated.

In a dog’s dinner world of identity politics and rising nationalism, the complexity and many-sidedness of prejudice is often hotly simplified. Words can fuel division when a playful sniff or wordless howl might have helped us get to know each other personally. Through shifts of perspective and context we are all somewhere a foreigner, sometimes a minority, one of them, on the threshold, one of the others.

The Tête-à-Tête two-person seat offers a space for everyone and anyone to self-cynanthropomorphisise, to get inside the dog, and bark or doze in friendly comfort – an other, next to a fellow other.

Tête-à-Tête Chair
Technique: Linocut on fabric, machine knit
Year: 2019
Dimensions: 145 x 95 x 20 cm
Edition number: 2

The hanging print goes together with the work Tête-à-Tête Chair, to demonstrate the dog-like interaction for which the seat is intended. The two works were made in response to the divisive environment of Brexit Britain. However, the topic of people divided, and the wish to spread compassion, can apply to any time and place. The series encourages playful friendliness for example, between two people of differing genders, from different backgrounds, with different languages, or with different political views.

Tête-à-Tête Chair: Instruction Manual
Technique: Linocut and photopolymer letterpress on fabric
Year: 2019
Dimensions: 150 x 100 cm
Edition number: 3

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