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ZOOKEEPERS: Andrew Mehall and Ben Hall

Opening reception

Saturday November 8th, 7-11pm


Otto: Don’t call me stupid.

Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I’ve known sheep that could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?

Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy.

Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.


We’ve been thinking a whole bunch about how a serious joke is still built the

same as a regular joke and how isn’t that true of all systems? The more they,

those rascally systems, mirror existing modes of production—like a plant bearing

a seed (natural/commodity/musical/sexual)—the more successful they are

because the receiver doesn’t need to build a new digestive or registry strategy to

understand the material. The receivership is about as ready as the average pit

bull is for a little thumb of tartare—that’s to say accepting verging on grateful.


Rocky Raccoon has this signifyin’ presence, right? It’s the same basic form as

the story of the St.Louis-Christmas murder of Billy Lyons in 1895. That’s the sort

of pre-existing apparatus they’re humping or maybe just bumping into. So not to

denigrate or discount the power of the Lenin/McCarthy axis (after all, they came

together) but to say they straight up lift-n-ape earlier musical traditions reaching

back hundreds of years into West African story telling tradition, and that’s in large

part why it’s so goddam successful. It’s not like you go to the trading post to get

a new mule, and some joker tries to sell you a baby hippo. You figure out where

the very best mules are, and you just go get you a little mule puppy or pupa or

kitten or whatever it’s called. Buying a hippo would be inappropriate. If we’re

imprecise about characterizing the nature of that transaction and its composite

parts, well, then, uh…


We’re trying not to do that old thing where you build a very shallow mythology

and create a few of its recently dug up and discovered artifacts—or that

thing where you give up some stock responses to aftermath. Art typically

makes a series of demands, and often it doesn’t feel like there’s any specific

investigation occurring. In the work or the language around the work, we make

these decisions, but we never have to articulate the consequences of those

decisions. And that kinda sucks, right? It’s not so genuine. It’s not that generous

or particularly generative. We’d like to make a Ginuwine pun here, but we’re way

toooo cool for that move.


So, borne out of these largely dramaturgical conversations Ben and Andrew

had  when Andrew was Ben’s gallerist, they decided to try and bring it to

occasion, the aesthetics of their ongoing investigations into all the normal art

stuff: regeneration in sealed ecosystems, non-gendered fucking, kids building

forts, how much can you gift of your own holdings and still have a little left to

move forward, and, naturally, Randy “Macho Man” Savage’s time in the Cardinals

farm system and how Macho’s incredible costuming serves as a postulate for Riff

Raff. We’re thinking less aping and more ape.