New Work: ‘The Sex Lives of Animals’
It’s true, everyone is having better sex than you. Even the animals. This is ably demonstrated in The Sex Lives of Animals currently on view at the Museum of Sex in New York. Designed by Michael Bierut and Jennifer Kinon, the exhibition explores the mating practices of species throughout the wild kingdom including those designed for reproductive purposes and those performed for sheer pleasure. Part entertainment, part natural history exhibition and part art gallery, the show features National Geographic-like photography and video clips as well as five specially commissioned life-sized animal sculptures by Brooklyn-based Norwegian artist Rune Olsen.
For the designers, an old field guide found at a Brooklyn stoop sale provided an inspiration for the organization of the exhibition’s content, which begins with the very grid-like order of nature established by Linnaeus and his Table of the Animal Kingdom, and Darwin and his Tree of Life. The show is the first natural history exhibition in the US to explore non-reproductive sexual behavior in animals, and the Museum of Sex asked a variety of respected scientists, academics and experts to consult on the content. The guidebook-like grid provided an ideal way to arrange the copious amount of information, but the challenge for the designers and curators was to pour in the content, pull out the right headers, and then slowly help life break free from the grid. The expressive sculptures, including “Deer Threesome” and “Gay Dolphin Blow-Hole Sex,” also serve to undermine the rigidness of the scientific environment as they force visitors to consider the complexities of the natural world.
The exhibition’s logo, which appears as 3-D letters at the exhibit’s entrance, reflects the tactile quality of the paper-based sculptures. The designers also created small animal sex pictograms that were used to key images to text in spots where the walls were especially dense with information.
The Sex Lives of Animals is on view through 24 May 2009.
Exhibition printing by Anthony Senatore of Mega Media Concepts.