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Categories: Kulturellt
Saturday, Jul 7, 2012

Jag har varit fullt sysselsatt senaste tiden, och en av de saker jag varit sysselsatt med är att hjälpa Molly Russell med textmaterial inför en utställning i september, som (provisoriskt i alla fall) kommer att heta “Molly Russell’s Dearly Beloved”.

Molly är skulptör och dessa skräddarsnickrade kistor för djur – ni ser krokodilen, jättesnigeln, ormen, myrsloken, flundran, osv – utgör huvudelementet i ett av de märkligaste konstnärliga projekt jag varit med om.

Jag ska återkomma om detta framöver, men under tiden kan man läsa lite mer om bakgrunden här nedan…


Molly Russell’s life has been lived in a menagerie, in a world where “human” and “animal” overlap, exchange, merge.

A sick dove resting in bed for weeks on end. Mice fed with fresh avocado. A rabbit near the end of its life given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“Before my grandfather and father both died last year,” Molly recalls, “I had only ever been to animal funerals…”

Molly’s father, the late Ken Russell, and in particular her mother Vivian adored animals, sometimes bordering on obsession. It was a childhood teeming with rodents scuttling, birds fluttering, at least 30 rabbits and guinea pigs at any one time. New lives were added constantly, death was ever-present, accompanied by burials and rituals.

It was “madness,” Molly says, “But at the same time a madness full of joy… When we had the floods, we had to rescue one hundred guineapigs and 25 rabbits who all took refuge in various rooms in the house for a week. There was a sea of guineapigs in the kitchen. Walter the Giant Grey Rabbit squatted in the carpeted bathroom…”

Then, at age nine, Molly’s nightmares began.

The phobia makes you see snakes in a half-coiled garden hose. Snakes in a hair-dryer lead, or a length of rope left on a back seat. Then, a plastic bag becomes a rabbit. A coat thrown on a sofa takes the shape of a sleeping dog.

Now, with the distance of time, the final ritual can be enacted. The concept for it has a surprising source: -“I remember seeing, around the age of six, the funeral scene from my father’s film ‘Mahler’… It made a huge impression on me: the little window in the coffin, the staring eyes…”.

Molly Russell’s hand-crafted animal coffins, made from highly polished oak veneer, and with gold plastic handles, are as ingenious as they are practical.

More than that, though, they seem to form part of a happy family tradition, combining a drastic and macabre sense of humour with a close-to-the-bone emotional and artistic urgency. “When they’re assembled in the show, I like to imagine them as a zoo for dead animals… a celebration of their lives…”

The exhibition will also feature related material in other media, such as animation, photography, graphics and found objects.

Molly Russell graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 2001 with a First in sculpture. Since then she has worked in television and education.

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