The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) hosts Lauren Strohacker: Old Red, I Know Where Thou Dwellest, a site-specific multimedia exhibition exploring the ongoing struggle for survival of red wolves. The exhibition opens on Friday, October 21, 2022 and will remain on view through August 27, 2023. The three-part exhibition is comprised of an installed multi-sensory experience in SECCA’s Overlook Gallery, an outdoor sound installation on SECCA’s grounds, and a series of free projection-based events occurring at SECCA and sites across Winston-Salem.
An opening reception for Old Red, I Know Where Thou Dwellest will be held at SECCA on Friday, October 21 from 5–8pm. Admission is free, with a suggested $10 donation.
Red wolves are facing a second extinction in the wild. The last known group of wild individuals are known to roam in and around the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina.
For red wolves, the state of North Carolina is both haunted and hallowed. The first court-recorded wolf bounties began in the state in 1768. Just over two centuries later, North Carolina became the first state to revive the species from wild extinction when two breeding pairs of red wolves were released into the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in 1987. This dichotomy of eradication, restoration, and the ongoing struggle of the species is the inspiration for this exhibition.
“Wild red wolves are federally recognized as an NEP, a nonessential experimental population. With this exhibition, I am creatively reintroducing experimental populations of red wolves through light and sound, widening the scope for humans to consider their proximity to and tolerance for the most endangered wolves in the world, fighting for survival just 300 miles due east of the museum,” Lauren Strohacker said.
Eco-political artist Lauren Strohacker has collaborated with computational artist Dr. Lisa Minerva Tolentino, The Wolf Conservation Center, and the North Carolina Zoo to present three conceptual encounters with red wolves within and beyond SECCA. Taken as a whole, Old Red, I Know Where Thou Dwellest reflects Strohacker’s ongoing efforts to enfold ecology, politics, and notions of radical interspecies municipalism through her co-creative and site-responsive practice.
“…the Greek word for ‘wolf’, lukos, is so close to the word ‘light’, leukos, that it has often been mistaken in translation.”
– Barry Lopez, Of Wolves and Men, 1978
Leukos Lukos is uncivilized decor. Contemporary floor lighting– typically decorative, controllable, peaceful, and predictable– is reimagined and “rewilded” as creative light intrusions in SECCA’s Overlook Gallery. Stochastic code transforms LED light strips into labile, ground-moving beings the length of red wolves. These are not artworks that only represent animals, they are artworks that move as animals: appearing, walking, running, stopping, circling, surrounding, and disappearing. Thus, each experience with Leukos Lukos is unique.
Leukos Lukos is made in collaboration with Dr. Lisa Minerva Tolentino, a computational artist, musician, and interaction designer. This project is supported in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts which receives support from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Premiering at the exhibition’s opening reception on Friday, October 21 is Ground Work, a hyper-mobile digitally projected pack of life-size red wolves. The experience will be activated via a series of free, public, outdoor projection events held within the species’ historic range, which includes nearly all of the eastern and southeastern United States. Portable projection screens and battery-operated pico projectors create eight life-size video projections of red wolves, the average size of a red wolf pack, for viewers to perceive and interact with. Ground Work is a visual echo of the red wolves making their last stand on the North Carolina coast and an invocation to redevelop equitable interspecies relationships between humans and red wolves at large.
Red wolves were filmed by Strohacker with special permission from the North Carolina Zoo, where she worked closely with Chris Lasher, coordinator for the American Red Wolf Species Survival Plan. The inaugural Ground Work event takes place in North Carolina, the first state historically to issue a bounty on wolves in the area and the only state to currently support a wild pack. Ground Work imagines a landscape re-enchanted with red wolves – holding space to consider the social, political, and ecological processes of inviting “Old Red” home.
Ground Work is supported by a creative grant from the Culture & Animals Foundation.
SUCH MUSIC AS I HAVE NEVER HEARD
The first entry referencing wolves in the North Carolina Moravian records states, “The wolves here give us music every morning, from six corners at once, such music as I have never heard.” The entry then immediately goes on to describe the benefits of killing the wolves and other predators.
Howls once filled the skies above the continent’s eastern and southeastern regions. Such music as I have never heard is a collection of red wolf howls, courtesy of the Wolf Conservation Center, triangulated with outdoor speakers to fill a modicum of the species’ historic range– SECCA’s front lawn– for the duration of the exhibition.
ABOUT LAUREN STROHACKER
Lauren Strohacker is an eco-political artist. Her new genre public work emphasizes the non-human in an increasingly human-centric world. Born in Ohio in 1983, she received a BFA (2006) from The Ohio State University and an MFA(2011) from Arizona State University. Strohacker is represented by Visions West Contemporary.
Strohacker’s co-creative and site-responsive practice routinely consults and collaborates with wildlife conservation organizations to conceptualize animals who have been displaced by the colonial built environment, controlled by the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, and erased by the anthropocentrism of capitalism. Conceptually, Strohacker’s focus on wildlife and public space reflects larger contexts of ecology, politics, and radical interspecies municipalism.
Learn more about the artist at https://www.laurenstrohacker.org/.