79 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Ngár-go (Fitzroy)
Aotearoa-born, Naarm Melbourne-based artist Jen Valender works with moving image and performance to express her interest in ethics and coexistence. Grounded in the cinematic, Valender's practice is inspired by material and historical conditions, conceptual paradoxes, poetic problematics and a resolute blurring of the art/life dichotomy. Valender has exhibited in galleries and public spaces in Australia, France, South Africa and Portugal. She holds an MFA (Research) with first-class honours from the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.
Sensing the other in whatever form it comes, 2022.
Cows lick themselves clean. A cow will clean her calf by gently licking its skin. Grooming through licking is a comfort behaviour. If the herd has become unsettled, it has a calming effect. Licking is an affectionate behaviour. It is how cattle bond with humans. Sensing the other in whatever form it comes highlights this gentle interaction between species. A closeup of an Aberdeen Angus’s tongue licking its handler’s hand—lovingly, gently and thoroughly across each finger—is at the forefront of the image. The act of licking is an offering, a generous gesture and a metaphor for encouraging further harmony between interspecies relations. The action plays with the conventions of the cinematic close-up: the psychological and emotional pull of a lens that is truly focused and drawn in. The art here is in the details: the textures of the tongue meeting the skin; of flesh upon flesh; of the glistening moisture and tonal range. Sensing the other in whatever form it comes, is unashamedly sensitive to the treatment of cattle and makes connections between our corporeal being and desire for kinship. Special thanks to Pam Beerens and Leigh Edwards of Ravenstone Station, Glenaroua, Victoria and their quiet cows Twenty, Lucky and Missy.
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