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Single-channel video

ProRes422 (HQ),1920 x 1080, 30p,

Stereo Sound ,16' 37" (play as loop), 2023

Hollow-Hare-Wallaby is a taxidermy of an animal called Eastern hare-wallaby. The taxidermy, however, does not exist in reality, but only in the form of computer graphics (CG). It may sound strange, but it is therefore a “taxidermy of an extinct species” left behind in the virtual space. The title “Hollow-Hare-Wallaby” refers to the hollowness and emptiness of the Eastern Hare Wallaby.

Eastern hare-wallaby is a marsupial that once existed in Australia. It is speculated that it became extinct at the end of the 19th century, due to the changes in its habitat that occurred when migrants brought in rabbits and red foxes from the European continent. The assumption is that the Eastern hare-wallaby became extinct about 50 years after the species was identified by the British ornithologist John Gould, known to be the first scientist to systematically describe Australian wild animals, and there exist almost no records related to its ecology. Existing today are taxidermied specimen, prints and drawings only, but they look so familiar that one gets the illusion that the Eastern hare-wallaby is still alive and kicking in Australia’s nature reserves today. (I may digress here, but let me add that existing prints of the Eastern hare-wallaby include works by Gould’s wife and illustrator Elizabeth [née Coxen, 1804-1841]. She made in fact also many of the lithographs in her husband’s publications, but shared with many female contemporaries the experience that she was not credited for her work.)

For myself, who lives right in the middle of the era of the sixth mass extinction on planet Earth, the “extinction of a species” is a gut-wrenching fact, and at the same time, an extraordinary occurrence that feels as if being sucked into the darkness of the universe. This is because, when considering the history of the earth’s ecology, the possibility can certainly not be ruled out that mankind, after having invented the term “extinction” to refer to this situation, will become extinct itself. On the other hand, there is also the hope that mankind will be capable of cause a miracle. One thing that may be helpful here is the habit of desperately imagining living beings other than humans, for example.

As explained above, it is impossible for us today to know what the extinct Eastern hare-wallaby really looked like in reality. With cooperation from the Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali di Torino, Hollow-Hare-Wallaby was made based on a full-scale taxidermy of the Eastern hare-wallaby. Nevertheless, just like the tigers in Delacroix’s paintings sometimes resemble tiger carpets than living tigers, and like depictions of elephants in Buddhist art look like mythical creatures very different from real epephants, Hollow-Hare-Wallaby is quite obviously a product of one-sided human imagination. When we are aware of this, humans supposedly imagine what the world is like for living beings other than humans, pay respect to that, and ask themselves what kinds of things mankind may leave behind on earth.

Concept, Direction, Edit, CG, Sound: Rei Hayama

Trumpet: Lars Rudolph

Zoological Information: Luca Ghiraldi, Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali di Torino, Italy

Commissioned work for the Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions 2023

© 2021 rei hayama

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