Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad - Animal Art

Fused, 4 July 2023

In this groundbreaking exhibition entitled ‘Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad,‘ Amsterdam’s Nieuw Dakota Gallery, housed on the former NDSM-wharf in Amsterdam-North, challenges the traditional notions of artistry by giving voice to animals as the artists themselves.

Departing from the conventional human-centric approach, this exhibition unveils the creative perspectives of a donkey, a pig, a collective of night crawlers, a pair of lobsters, and a mallard duck. Guided by the perceptive animal whisperer, Alwyn Wils, these captivating interactions serve as the foundation for a collection of thought-provoking artworks.

As humans assume a subordinate role, they are entrusted with the vital task of visually manifesting the animals’ profound concepts.

‘Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad‘ stands as a striking counterpoint to Nieuw Dakota’s previous exhibition, ‘Pigs and Sheep and Beasts.’ In this earlier showcase, artists endeavoured to enhance human comfort through the agency of animals, whether by assigning financial responsibilities to pets or relying on animals solely for the betterment of human health. However, in the current exhibition, the roles are reversed, granting animals the long-awaited opportunity to articulate their perspectives through artistic expression.

The exhibition’s title derives from the renowned work of George Orwell, ‘Animal Farm’ (1945). In this satirical representation of a dictatorial society, rebellious animals overthrow their human oppressor, subsequently establishing a set of commandments. Among these commandments, one resounds powerfully: “Four legs good, two legs bad,” signifying the animals’ newfound worth, surpassing that of humans.

The exhibition unveils the remarkable works engendered by the five animals and their profound exchanges with the animal whisperer. One such artwork, ‘Oever’ (Bank), manifests the vision of a wild male duck (NL, approximately 7 years old). This kinetic installation captures the eternal movement of water through ceaselessly swaying reeds, an embodiment of the serene paradise the duck envisions within a boundless expanse of riverbanks.

The assistant to the Night Crawlers Collective masterfully brings to life ‘The Conqueror Worm,‘ a mural that exudes the fluid gracefulness of these enigmatic creatures as they navigate the darkness, surrounded solely by each other and the earth.

Amsterdam’s Nieuw Dakota Gallery explores intriguing subjects, unconventional content and fresh perspectives on traditional exhibition practices. The space uncovers curious topics, uncommon content and innovative approaches to art curation that push boundaries and open the mind to new experiences in the world of exhibitions (the animals made us to say that).

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad is on view until 20 August 2023