All Visual Arts in London is set to present Polly Morgan’s largest installation to date, entitled Endless Plains. Inspired by a recent visit to the Serengeti, this new exhibition is a vibrant parable that confronts the viewer with the uncompromising cycle of life; the predator, the parasite and the prey. Endless Plains interprets this vast expanse of land, at once barren and teeming with life, in perverted and unusual ways. The result is an unflinching portrait of the savagery of nature, where the sacrifice of one life for dozens more is a vital and constant exchange. Shortly after this journey, the artist had an encounter with her own mortality, developing life-threatening peritonitis and gangrene, where part of her own body died and went under the scalpel. This experience is evident in much of her new work, where bodies are rent wide, their cavities seething with life.
Morgan brings her own carcass into the gallery in the shape of a hollowed out stag, filled with resting bats. Elsewhere a fallen tree, hollow and rotten, is hung with plump piglets gorging themselves from its ‘teats’ like parasites. Sap runs, like milk, down their chins as they suck the life out of it. The piglets become a central image in Morgan’s new work, completing the chain as mushrooms sprout from their prone carcasses to nourish an avaricious flock of birds.
Circumventing the ‘traditional’ trophy taxidermy that sought to animate the subject, Morgan avoids anthropomorphosis and instead meditates on the significance of the departure of life in her work. Endless Plains is a meditation on death as process - both hierarchy and commodity, as parasites become hosts, maintaining balance through bloodshed.
Morgan’s early work manipulated scale and context to expose a latent romance and narrative in the corpse. By appropriating the Victorian art of taxidermy, she updates the traditional notion memento mori to interrogate themes including the cultural mythology around death, birth and the afterlife. The sculptures tap into the uncanny; the fine line between animate and inanimate capturing the imagination of audiences and critics worldwide
Endless Plains is on view from June 8 to July 31, 2012 at All Visual Arts, 2 Omega Place, Kings Cross, London