The Scream of the Strawbear @ Kunsthalle Giessen

Conversation between Matthew Cowan and Janine Sack about the publication and its making.


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12.1.2024, 18 Uhr
Oberhessisches Museum / Kunsthalle Giessen

+++ Unfortunately, the event is cancelled due to the rail strike. There will be a digital presentation instead. +++

The Scream of the Strawbear
Matthew Cowan
Presentation: e-book and editions

The Scream of the Strawbear is a digital record, documenting the gathering of materials and the process of creating the project The Scream of the Strawbear. In his photographs, videos, installations and performances, visual artist Matthew Cowan surveys European customs and traditions and their continuing social function today. This interest originally stemmed from learning English ritual dances in New Zealand and has sparked an ongoing exploration of folklore and its contemporary connotations in a wider European context. A sequence of rituals, materials, costumes, plants, and museum artefacts form the central staging point of his artistic research.

In The Scream of the Strawbear, the New Zealand-born artist documents selected traditions from the German city of Giessen and the surrounding countryside, placing them in the context of contemporary art. The publication includes texts that reveal the process of artistic research involved in the work. It covers diverse yet connected themes of folklore originating from traditions in Hesse as well as historical links that cross the world from New Zealand to Europe and the United Kingdom.

Matthew Cowan collaborated with communities whose annual traditional ritual customs, such as the Strawbear and Maimann, take place close to Giessen. These community rituals provide a focus for the aesthetic material of the project. Straw, eggs, leaves, tobacco, cameras, and sound recording devices all feature as artistic motifs in the resulting exhibition at Kunsthalle Giessen.

The e-book contains extensive photographs and documents from the research and exhibition and five performance videos produced over the course of the project.

The Scream of the Strawbear was exhibited at Kunsthalle Giessen and the Oberhessisches Museum from September 7 to November 17, 2019.

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