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My work engages with a world whose future seems increasingly locked on a trajectory which is accelerating towards climate breakdown and species loss. I express this by working across a range of disciplines including video installation, photography, collage and sculpture.
We are currently in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, predicted by scientists to be the most devastating since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This event is likely to be mankind’s lasting legacy and necessitates a need to rethink our relationship with the non-human world. Nature’s “free” bounty, the water, land and other species that we have capitalised on for food and resources since we became human, is now coming to an abrupt end.
My work is a commentary on the contradictions posed by our predicament. On the one hand, we are increasingly aware of the changes in our world, which manifest themselves through melting ice, vanishing habitats and pollution. Yet, we can also see that these changes are linked to our very existence on the planet and our exploitation of its resources. Humans clearly need nature, but nature, it seems, does not need humans.
I have long been interested in how certain creatures, particularly the chicken, have become ‘de-animalised’ and nothing more than a unit of production, a thing to be traded and no different from an inanimate widget. So, when I see images of caged hens, I see them as an extreme manifestation of our fractured relationship with nature. This collage is a digital amalgamation of different images of battery hen farms. What struck me when I saw them was that the hens were kept in relative darkness, all facing a central aisle, and that the space reminded me of a theatre or auditorium. I wondered what they could be watching. Thinking of the sorrow of Swan Lake, I decided that the dying swan, Odette, was an apt addition to the scene: with the pathos of the dancer comes the sublime, which emphasises the misery of the conditions in which the hens live.
Mandeep Dillon (b.1965, UK). She lives and works in London and is currently in the final year of the MA Sculpture Programme at the Royal College of Art. Before this, she worked as a creative director and as documentary filmmaker producing work about environmental issues and geopolitics in locations ranging from Rwanda and Palestine to the Arctic. Her current practice is an extension of this earlier film work and continues to examine the fractured relationship between humans and nature.
She has been featured as ‘One to Watch’ in State F22 magazine and has participated in a range of group and solo shows, including Dirty Hands (Standpoint Gallery, 2019), Sleep and the Unconscious (7 Wigmore Street, 2018) as well as a number of shows at the RCA. Mandeep's work is in private collections in the UK, Europe and USA. She will be taking part in a residency at Standpoint Gallery, Hoxton in February 2019.