Colleen Plumb: Path Infinitum
This video installation displays the large-scale captive animals pacing, circling, and rocking, as well as moments of awareness of the spectators reflecting in the glass that divides the species. Path Infinitum focuses on the complexities of keeping animals in captivity and raises questions about what it means to participate as a spectator of animals. Wild animals are kept on display, often outside of their natural climates and in the center of cities, becoming a lesson in contradiction. Projecting videos of the animals onto urban surfaces and out-of-context landscapes, adds an additional layer of incongruence. Many species right now are extremely vulnerable due to human consumption as well as habitat loss caused by climate change.
Is captivity an answer to the imminent loss? Or can threatened species survive and be effectively protected so that they thrive and live in their natural habitats? Experts agree that likely no enclosure is sufficient for the widest-ranging animals. Do we take animals for granted if we are able to see them so easily in captivity, and when they exhibit unnatural behaviors in captivity (as is most often the case), do we accept this as normal? Existing models of captivity and display are ultimately not meant to serve the animals but rather the humans that watch them. There are powerful myths surrounding animals, and these nostalgic or sacred connections seem to be driving humans to devour them to their very disappearance. Hopefully this work can contribute to pathways toward remedy.
Path Infinitum (26 min, color video, looped) has grown out of Plumb's ongoing project, Thirty Times a Minute, a video project exploring elephants in captivity. Plumb has installed public video installations of Thirty Times a Minute (12 min, color) since 2014. That video is comprised of dozens of captive elephants caught in unending cycles of movement, bearing the weight of an unnatural existence in their small enclosures.