b. 1973, Te Awamutu, New Zealand. Lives and works in Sydney

Together Again, 2017/2019
Installation, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist

Lamenting the loss of the ancient relationship with the wild, in this work Australia-based artist Hayden Fowler—originally a biologist who majored in ecology and animal behavior—attempts to re-establish this connection for himself. Together Again is many things: its medium combines installation, performance, and virtual reality; its approach combines a means of being together with a wolf and encouraging discussions around the trust, empathy, sensitivity, respect, and equality between humans and animals. The work was first performed in Australia, where the artist worked with a rescued Australian Dingo which now shares his home. In Moscow, Fowler’s companion is Yuki, a captive-born wolf whose parents were handed over to his current home after they “retired” from a local zoo. Trained as a performing animal within film and photo studio environments, Yuki met Fowler during the artist's site visit in November 2018. Without Yuki’s consent—shown by accepting the artist’s presence within his space—the performance would not be possible. First and foremost, Together Again has educational aspirations: to promote alternative means of human engagement with the environment and ecology.

For the performative part of the piece, Fowler shares a cage with Yuki while wearing a VR headset which recreates a virtual wilderness environment based on the local landscape. A tracker attached to the wolf’s harness makes it possible to mirror the movements of the live wolf within the virtual wilderness. The artist and wolf exist together, both within the austerity of the cage and within the re-imagined freedom of a simulated natural environment. The artist states: “Currently the world is facing a looming death of the ancient in both human culture and our environment, where the delayed effects of modernity and acceleration of technological industrialization are playing out. We are at a critical tipping point in extinction and the loss of our ancient relationships and physical experience of nature and particularly the wild.”

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art would like to thank HTC Vive for help in organizing Hayden Fowler’s performance Together Again.