We are all apes, is artist Lisa Roet’s clarion call in I am Ape, a new monograph of her three decade career.
Roet’s striking art works explore human’s relationship with apes, drawing on the influence of zoologists, language experts and others.
Roet multidisciplinary art operates within the realms of still-life, caricature, landscape, classical sculpture and Pop art. Prof Jeanette Horn calls Roet “one of the foremost sculptors working in Australia.”
Roet is best known for her giant inflatable sculptures that cling to iconic architecture in metropolises around the world. From Beijing to London the presence of jungle creatures - gorillas, gibbons and chimpanzees - dramatises the dire encroachment of humans on the great apes’ pristine habitats. With nowhere to run, Roet’s art provocatively suggests, the animals will soon be on our doorstep, if not climbing the walls and nesting on the roof. Environmental concerns are, however, only one facet to her conceptual project.
Aesthetically rich, diverse and complex, her work always returns to the same terrain – the great ape, human/animal relationships, the degradation of the Earth, species extinction and hope for the future. Roet has become the a major voice of the last half-century in exploring how inextricably linked human and animal are in the age of the Anthropocene.
“Using the animal to reflect the human, demystifies the human,” she says. “I’m interested in exploring that liminal state between the rational and the primal. In my work I’m always becoming the ape, or the ape is becoming me.”
From cover illustration to layout structure and printed object, the design of I Am Ape embodies key aspects of Lisa Roet’s conceptual art. Just as she explores the evolution of communication, Andrew Ashton’s design questions the boundaries, traditions, mediums, materiality, and messages intrinsic to both her art and the art monograph. The cover portrait itself blurs the human–simian divide immediately reminding us of our species connection to non-human apes. The chapter headings resemble living forms, expressing the evolution of communication. And the exposed spine not only allows greater readability with flat open spreads, but metaphorically reveals the DNA of the book.
Pages 300 Full Colour soft cover
Ray Edgar is a journalist and editor whose work appears regularly in the Age newspaper Melbourne.
Barbara Creed is Professor of Screen Studies in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. Her books include The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis and Darwin’s Screens: Evolutionary Aesthetics, Time and Sexual Display in the Cinema. She is director of the Human Rights & Animals Research Network.