17th-century French philosopher René Descartes likened animals to automata—sort of “wet machines” that felt no pain and lacked basic sentience. Two hundred years later, Charles Darwin not only demonstrated that in fact all animals, including humans, are related through a 3.5-billion-year-old sprawling genealogical tree, but that all animals share deep commonalities of form and behavior. His third major work, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), laid out his groundbreaking idea in the title. And yet today, many doubt nonhuman animals’ capacity for feelings and emotions. Knowles’s video work Tahlequah uses an array of found footage to deftly trace out the kinship, and corresponding sense of sorrow and loss, that animals like orcas and dolphins feel for their departed offspring. It also sets up an evocative comparison of the human to the nonhuman animal in form and motion, drawing a map of kinship across the persistent human / nonhuman divide. — AY
About Dominique Knowles
Dominique Knowles was born in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1996. Knowles has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received the New Artist Society Award in 2018. He received a BFA in Studio from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2017. His work shows in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. Recent exhibitions include Übersee at Halle 14 in Leipzig, Germany, a solo exhibition; In the Warmest Glance of the Sun, at The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas; With a Capital P: Selections by Six Painters at the Elmhurst Art Museum; as well as The Map is Not the Territory (Josh Dihle, Mika Horibuchi, Dominique Knowles, Robyn O’Neil, Ryan M Pfeiffer + Rebecca Walz and Nancy Spero) at Andrew Rafacz Gallery. He has curated group exhibitions such as When The Sun Drowns In The Ocean, at Popop Studios, as well as Nandi, at The Condo Association in Chicago. Knowles was an artist in residence at Liquid Courage Gallery.