This image began to formulate in my mind following an article I read about violence amongst primates, particularly chimpanzees. It seems our closest ancestral cousins are much more violent than other mammals, although they are certainly no match for human violence. Humans are exceptional in this department – exceptionally violent to each other, towards other animals and frequently, en masse. In terms of our ethics towards other living beings, it seems we have not evolved very far.
As with most of my work, I have created anthropomorphised figures as the perpetrators, in this case to draw a parallel between apes and human. The image suggests an historic and ongoing battle. Various cultures and historic periods are referenced in the foreground whilst the background wallpaper of bombs references the more industrialized violence of contemporary war.
The soft colours, decorative elements, and the incongruously gentle faces of the various primates in the scene, belie the violent subject matter of the image. It is as if the primates don’t really want to hurt each other. Perhaps they are on the precipice of making a compassionate choice?
Ultimately Monkey Madness suggests both the insanity of violence and the possibility of compassion. Human beings have the ability to choose to live compassionately yet the majority still hold onto violent traditions of the past. In the current 21st century age of readily accessible information, it seems now more than ever we have an opportunity to evolve, yet how much are we evolving?
Claude divides her time between Munich and Sydney where she creates hybrid, mutant and anthropomorphised sculptures and mixed media 2D works that question our complex and contradictory relationship with other animals and with ourselves.
Originating in New Zealand, Claude has travelled extensively, studying, teaching, undertaking residency programs and exhibiting in Australia and abroad. She is currently a sessional academic in Printmaking at The National Art School in Sydney. The artist has been a finalist in numerous art awards, winning the “Moreton Bay Art Prize” in 2011 and the “Its Liquid” International art prize, in 2012. Her works are represented in many public and private collections including Artbank, The Art Gallery of New South Wales and The Rhode Island School of Design Museum in the U.S.A.