Linda Tegg(1979)’s oeuvre is characterized by an element of almost scientific enquiry and observation as the attentive, sober eye of the camera follows the object under investigation.
By confronting the people or animals observed with a specific, often staged, setting, the documentations are given a certain direction which ultimately leads to the question Tegg’s study centers on. The object’s response to the setting is then documented and analyzed by the artist. The results of these visual studies are open, unpredictable and occasionally surprising. The selection of her latest video oeuvre shown at the Alpineum Produzentengalerie centers on the artist’s interest in animals and the cultural connotations and meanings linked to them. The viewers are invited to get involved with the pieces of artistic research.
As its title suggests, the two channel video study Wolf Video Study (Mexican Grey), filmed in the Texan desert in the spring of 2011, focuses on the Mexican Grey Wolf. Once common in the American Midwest, this subspecies to the ‘real’ wolf, canis lupus, is now more or less extinct. Since ancient times, folklore has associated the wolf with negative characteristics such as malice, treachery and belligerence. Linda Tegg’s study shows the wolf on the one hand in what resembles its natural environment; on the other hand, it is exposed to obviously human surroundings. The latter being a reference to the Mexican Grey Wolf’s current situation, which nowadays often lives alongside humans in a half domesticated way. With a steady take, the camera documents movements, perceptions and reactions of the wolf. Crawling, straying, it explores its surroundings thereby repeatedly being confronted with mirroring surfaces. In the outdoors, the wolf is startled, even scared of its own reflection. Inside a stuffy motel room, however, its own reflection merely provokes a subtle curiosity, and seemingly bored, the wolf lays back down on the ornamental bed spread. Tegg’s video study overrides the traditional notion of the big bad wolf and shows it as a harmless, even timid creature.
The 2010 Sheep Video Study (crop) focuses on an animal similarly disadvantaged in the public opinion and folklore. Domesticated for over 6000 years, the sheep is considered the most ancient pet of all. Throughout history, however, it has been branded with predominantly negative characteristics. “Brehms Tierleben”, a zoological reference book from the late 19th century, for example points out its “disgraceful cowardice”. Linda Tegg’s camera looks at a grey sheep briskly crossing a green field with movements that seem programmed, steered by an invisible force. Whereas the experimental purpose of the Wolf Video Study is openly visible, the Sheep Video Study does not disclose whether the animal’s behavior is coincidental or provoked by the artist.
Contrary to the wolf and the sheep that are ordinary animals set apart only through their perceptions and reactions to them, Tortoise (2011), blurs the borders between the natural and the mechanical. An indefinable, apparently artificial creature with a shell of reflecting elements that in fact do remind of a tortoise slowly moves across a room. It rears up and sinks back down. While the Wolf Video Study (Mexican Grey) focuses entirely on the perceptions and the reactions of the animal, in Tortoise it rather seems as though the viewers take on the roles of object and artist at once. The strange creature irritates the perception and stimulates the viewers’ curiosity. The constant movements of the individual elements in the tortoise shell, the bits of architecture, light and shadow reflected in them, create an illusion of the creature being about to merge with its surroundings. At the same time, the creature itself appears to get irritated by the constant movement of the various elements and influences in the room. The viewers are now in charge of registering and analyzing their reactions to this new perception while the camera simply follows the slow, almost hesitant movements of a hybrid oscillating between a mechanical construct and a natural organism.
The photographic work Women (entangled) (2010) was an important preliminary study leading up to the creation of Tortoise. Women (entangled) is where Linda Tegg’s interest in knotted, entangled organisms and their movements started. Entwined arms and legs correspond in their shape to the ornaments on the underlying carpet, but are no more identifiable as belonging to a human body. Instead, they melt into a new, creature, which, despite its similarity to the mechanical, tortoise-like being, seems made up of several autonomously acting body parts.
At the same time, Women (entangled) visualizes a blind spot. Perhaps the photographical study reveals truly physical, even carnal core that may be hidden underneath the reflecting shell of the semi artificial tortoise.