intent:
My work is a publicly-engaged, multidisciplinary practice of sculpture, print, video, public interventions, independent history research and writing, and education through a social/environmental justice lens. Although I do not identify myself solely as an artist, I embrace the role in the manner of a contemporary trickster, challenging power and assumptions while operating on the margins and boundaries of clear definition. I practice creative acts publicly as a pedagogical counter-measure against oppression, and personally as a life strategy for well-being. My current focus is on projects which explore obscured and/or forgotten histories - those of humans and of other animals.

I am an active member of the Justseeds Artists' Cooperative. I'm currently on the planning and design committee for the West Virgina Mine Wars Museum in Matewan, WV.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

bio:
Shaun Slifer (b. 1979) is a multidisciplinary artist currently working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shaun's projects have appeared internationally in a variety of galleries, nonprofit exhibition spaces, and community centers, as well as under bridges and alongside interstate highways. He regularly works in collaboration with other artists and in collectively structured groups, including the now-disbanded Street Art Workers, the Howling Mob Society, and currently with Justseeds Artists' Cooperative and the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. He received a BFA in Sculpture from Watkins College of Art in Nashville, Tennessee in 2003.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

re: video work

“Among the earliest forms of human self-awareness was the awareness of being meat.”
- David Quammen, Monster of God

I'm fascinated by the role that predator animals play in popular culture, in particular the way in which Hollywood movies utilize the “rogue beast” trope in entertainment. Whether they take the form of environmental precautionary tales (ex: the global warming theme of 1977's Day of the Animals) or eschew content in pursuit of unmitigated pulp action (1997's Anaconda, or any Jaws sequel), these movies speak to base fears that humans share: the fear of “other” in the form of animals, the fear of subordination to them, the fear of being eaten or defeated by creatures we cannot control. The advancement of civilization, as we now experience it, has always required the extermination of alpha predators as the basis for conquest.

It's not as though Hollywood films or even pulp novellas present new treatments of this theme - history is full of predator animals in fictional and mythical interactions with people. What I find intriguing is the repetition of this theme in entertainment today, and it's continual success at creating a binary understanding of “the Wild” despite the usually absurd presentation. From the giant octopus in the first 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916) to Snakes on a Plane (2006), modern filmmakers continue to recycle formulaic stories in which people are forced into violent interactions with perverse versions of the natural world, usually ending in victory for the humans.

What originally began as a study of scenes of human-over-animal victories in contemporary movies has since evolved into a larger documentation of these violent interactions from any film I can get my hands on. This growing database of footage has been at the core of my video work since 2007.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

photo by Bill Daniel, 2009
installing "Between Dog & Wolf" : photo by Bill Daniel, 2009

photo by Becca Susman, 2013
: photo by Becca Susman, 2013