The Case of the Deviant Toad, Brandon Ballengée
The Royal Institution of Great Britain, 21 Albermarle Street, London, W1S 4BS
15/03/2010 – 31/03/2010
Ballengée's artistic practice is immersed in the study and exchange of ideas around biodiversity and ecological change, and particularly focuses on global species decline.
New York artist, activist and ecological researcher, Brandon Ballengée brings his startling high-resolution scanner photographs, video and preserved specimens of deformed toads to the Royal Institution for his first London solo exhibition: The Case of the Deviant Toad. The show, exploring issues of biodiversity and ecological change, presents the outcome of the artist's 'Ecoactions' and study of UK amphibians commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
In this the International Year of Biodiversity, Ballengée's artistic practice warns of high incidences of amphibian deformity in response to environmental degradation through his creation of aesthetically rich images and intriguing installations.
In the exhibition, Ballengée presents variations of his sculptural series Styx which display cleared and stained specimens of deformed toads, each tiny animal presented in a precisely illuminated glass dish. In a gallery context, the specimens resemble translucent gems; enchanting, terrible and other-worldly. Framed watercolour prints of detailed vibrant specimens scans are reminiscent of x-rays, presenting large-scale images of fragile delicacy to invoke viewers' empathy.
The free exhibition at the Royal Institution, The Case of the Deviant Toad, coincides with the launch of a new publication of Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians by Brandon Ballengée.
Ballengée, now based in New York. has worked with The Arts Catalyst since 2007 leading field trips to Gunpowder Park, Essex and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield to collect specimens which highlight environmental changes which impact on biodiversity.
Monday 15 March 2010
6.30pm Café Scientifique - discussion about the work of artist and ecological researcher Brandon Ballengée, chaired by Nicola Triscott, Director of The Arts Catalyst - free admission, book online at Royal Institution events
7.30pm Book launch and exhibition opening
Exhibition open from 16 to 31 March 2010, Monday to Friday, 9am to 11pm, Free admission
Malamp, The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians by Brandon Ballengée. A monograph, jointly published by The Arts Catalyst and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, brings together Ballengée’s UK research with findings from his global amphibian studies. It includes texts on his practice from arts, science and ecological perspectives, including a keynote essay by the renowned art critic and curator Lucy R Lippard. Additional contributors include Clare Lilley, Head Curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Nicola Triscott, Director of The Arts Catalyst; Dr Stanley K Sessions, Professor of Biology, Hartwick College and Dr Kerry Kriger, Director of Save the Frogs. The publication is richly illustrated with extraordinary photographs, Ballengée’s drawings and other artworks.
Malamp: The Occurrence of Deformities in Amphibians, Brandon Ballengée. Edited by Nicola Triscott/Miranda Pope. 72 page, softback. £15.95. ISBN 978-0-9534546-7-9
Buy your copy here
Full picture credits:
Scanner photographs of cleared and stained multi-limbed Pacific Tree frogs from Aptos, California in created in scientific collaboration with Dr Stanley K Sessions. MALAMP titles in collaboration with the poet KuyDelair; Unique Digital chromogenic prints on watercolor paper, 2001-07. Courtesy the artist, New York City and Nowhere Gallery, Milan.
Detail: Cleared and stained deformed Pacific treefrog from Styx sculpture installed at the Biotechnique Exhibition, Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts, San Francisco 2007. Malamp drawings, 1997-2000 of deformed Pacific Treefrogs from California. Polluted pond water, ash, and leftover coffee on artist-reconstituted paper. Photographs Foto22 courtesy of the artist and private collection, New York City.
Malamp drawings, 1997-2000 of deformed Pacific Treefrogs from California. Polluted pond water, ash, and leftover coffee on artist-reconstituted paper. Photographs Foto22 courtesy of the artist and private collection, New York City.