Bamboo (Seattle, Washington) at Volkstheater, Vienna, Austria, 2016

In over one hundred locations, from 2014-2019, I installed and photographed guerilla public projections of my captive elephants video, Thirty Times a Minute. The presence of these massive, intelligent, far-roaming, emotional animals in urban zoos exemplifies contradiction and discordance, and my public projections of their image onto urban walls and out-of-context surfaces interferes with public space and adds to layers of incongruity. To create the video I traveled to over sixty zoos in the US and Europe, and filmed captive elephants exhibiting what biologists refer to as stereotypy, a behavior only seen in captive animals, which includes rhythmic rocking, head bobbing, stepping back and forth, and pacing. This compulsive movement is a coping mechanism for stress, and causes debilitating damage to the animals’ joints. I distilled my footage into a video that weaves together sequences of the elephants, caught in unending cycles of movement, bearing the weight of an unnatural existence in their small enclosures. Thirty Times a Minute (the resting heart rate of an elephant) explores the way animals in captivity function as symbols of persistent colonial thinking, that a striving for human domination over nature has been normalized, and that consumption masks as curiosity. The work sheds light on abnormal behaviors of captive elephants in order to bring attention to implicit values of society as a whole, particularly those that perpetuate power imbalance and tyranny of artifice. Aware of the tremendous need to protect native habitat and its residents, this project contributes to the idea that sentient beings are not meant for spectacle or display

Thirty Times a Minute, 2014 (10:13 minutes, HD color video, stereo)

Thirty Times a Minute, public projection documentation, 2014-2019

Thirty Times a Minute, published by Radius Books, 2020 Photography by Colleen Plumb. Texts by Marc Bekoff, Julia Cooke, Catherine Doyle, Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., Linda Hogan, Les O’Brien, Joyce Poole & Peter Granli, Steven M. Wise, Mandy-Suzanne Wong. Hardcover, 9.25 x 13.5 inches, 58 images, 220 pages