We saw these mash-ups on Dr Alex Pearl’s instagram page: @rotagavinii and we just had to reach out and ask if we could show them in one of our Small House Galleries as a father & son show. Alex said yes, and 2 year old Larry said “yuss.”

Alex’s PhD was on ‘Breakdown: Mechanical Dysfunction and Anthropomorphism’ at MMU and FACT Liverpool. He works with the three A’s: agency, anxiety, & automatic systems.

Larry works with mechanical dysfunction and anthropomorphism too, as you can see below, but all he’s prepared to say on record at this time is “mine.”

In 2018 as part of the Ipswich Annual Biennial I made a series of speculative planning permission signs to be posted around Ipswich town centre. The signs exactly mimicked those used by the town council but were rather improbable in content. One was for an underground esplanade with drone seagulls, another for a moon rocket launching site and a third proposed a genetic splicing laboratory and attached petting zoo. There were some concerned calls to the council and eventually a representative appeared on BBC local radio to denounce my irresponsible actions. The signs were subsequently removed. 

The work in this exhibition at the Small House Gallery is the result of my daydreams about the realisation of the Rare Animal Petting Zoo, of the strange creatures that would emerge and create a sense of wonder in a town that really needed it. 

Larry Pearl’s work picks up on similar themes but speaks more of that human urge to master his environment. The jigsaw sculptures are triumphantly forced together in defiance of societal norms creating new monuments to human will. Most of all these hybrid forms give the artist a sense of overwhelming pleasure as he looks up from his work and declares “mine!”

Alex Pearl writing about Petting Zoo: A Two Person Show with his two year old son Larry
Alex Pearl, Green Screen Hybrids, C-Type prints, installation view on ground and first floors of Small House Two, 2021
Alex Pearl, Green Screen Hybrids, video projection and C-Type print, installation view of the basement level of Small House Two, 2021

The work in this exhibition at the Small House Gallery is the result of my daydreams about the realisation of the Rare Animal Petting Zoo, of the strange creatures that would emerge and create a sense of wonder in a town that really needed it. 

Alex Pearl on his Petting Zoo Green Screen Hybrids
Alex Pearl (above) Green Screen Hybrids, C-Type prints, installation view of the left-hand room of the first floor of Small House Two, (below) animated video superimposed onto the former

Alex Pearl animates his green screen chimera portraits, and places the hybrid pets onto backgrounds depicting the environs of ‘Ipswich, enchanting Ipswich.’ In doing so he creates a darkly humorous alternative reality for the town, imagining a scenario in which the Council has accepted his ‘Planning Permission’ application for a proposed animal petting zoo attached to the local (imaginary) gene splicing laboratory.

(Above) Alex Pearl, Green Screen Hybrids, C-Type prints, animated (ground floor installation in Small House Two)

By way of advertising for a local ‘Annual Biennial’ festival in 2018, Pearl pasted notices on the lampposts around Ipswich that mimicked the Council’s real planning permission tenders. Some people missed the clues that there was no real-world threat to the town or its animals’ welfare, but a mischievous conceptual art gesture to promote an artist’s show in the festival ‘Outraged of Ipswich’ et al, were apparently unaware that their town was hosting. Complaints got back to the not best-pleased bureaucrats of Ipswich Council, who deemed the stunt “irresponsible.”

Alex Pearl, Green Screen Hybrids, video projection and C-Type prints, installation view of the basement level of Small House Two, 2021

Pearl sites/cites a lot of his work in and around Ipswich; he seems to have a cheekily antagonistic relationship with the place, that stems from love and high expectations for the place. The dynamic is very entertaining for us, but maybe not so much for the folks at Ipswich Council – we have a feeling they’ll warm to the project in due course, once they understand that he’s not really advocating for an unethical gene-splicing laboratory and petting zoo in the borough, but a conceptually sound imaginary one.

Alex Pearl, Green Screen Hybrids, video projection and C-Type print, installation view of the basement level of Small House Two, 2021
Alex Pearl, Green Screen Hybrids, C-Type prints, installation view of the basement level of Small House Two, 2021
Alex Pearl: installation view of the PETTING ZOO show. basement level of Small House Two, 2021

Just in case it isn’t clear by now…

DISCLAIMER: No animals were harmed in the making of these artworks by Alex Pearl nor by the puzzle mash-ups by toddler artist Larry Pearl.

MEET THE ARTISTS:

Alex Pearl, PhD
Alex Pearl makes: mini epic films, video installations, games, photographs, objects, blogs
and books. In 2018 he completed a PhD (at MMU and FACT Liverpool) on mechanical
breakdown and anthropomorphism. This involved making, and pretending to dress up as, a
series of badly made robots. Current work has grown from a series of speculative planning
applications made to Ipswich Borough Council to bring wonder to the town centre.
http://www.alexpearl.co.uk

Larry Valentine Pearl, ABCs
Larry is two; he likes diggers and cars.

Alex Pearl and Larry Valentine Pearl: PETTING ZOO: A TWO PERSON SHOW at Small House Gallery’s Small House Two, 2021

Throughout the month of May (2020) Alex will be making interventions to the static photos of his green screen work installed. Look for new GIFs on the Small House Gallery instagram account. Some will have been added above, but the Instagram account is the most natural viewing habitat for those chimerae.

https://www.instagram.com/small_house_gallery/

For further on Alex Pearl’s work:

https://www.alexpearl.co.uk/

https://www.instagram.com/rotagavinii/

Alex Pearl ‘Petting Zoo’ video (referencing ‘Planning Permission’)

Above: The looped video you’d have been able to see all the way through as it’s projected onto the wall of Small House Two’s basement had we been able to show it to you in person.

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