Known for her artistic and analytical exploration into the connections between humans and primates, Roet’s dynamic interdisciplinary practice encompasses sculpture, drawing, photography, design and film. At its very centre, the artist’s work has become renowned for investigating the notion of “humanness” and our relationship to the natural world.
Spanning two decades, throughout her artistic career Roet has worked consistently with primatologists and taxonomists, positioning her practice simultaneously within scientific and creative spheres. Her experience working in close proximity with apes, gorillas, chimpanzees, and monkeys has afforded Roet a unique artistic position. Such diverse research has led the artist deep into the forests of Borneo, to ape language institutes in America, zoos throughout Europe, and museological archives in the Asia-Pacific region. Having held representation by galleries in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and America, Roet has staged over twenty-five solo exhibitions and participated in more than fifty group shows worldwide, including recently being included in the Chengdu Biennale. She has earned multiple awards and Fellowships for her art practice including the Prestigious National Sculpture Award from The National Gallery of Australia and The McClelland Sculpture Award, McClelland Sculpture Park, Victoria.
Positioned thirty metres above ground level, Roet’s new work, the radiant Golden Monkey sculpture takes the form of the endangered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey with its distinct upturned face and long tail. The newly discovered monkey is a critically threatened species found only in southern China and in northern parts of Vietnam and Myanmar. It is alleged the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey was discovered in 2010 when heard sneezing. One of the primates defining characteristics is its tendency to sneeze when rain lands in its mutated nose. Thousands of years of evolutionary ‘biomorphism’ have designed an upturned nasal cavity into which the melting frost gathers. Transferring this trait caused by global warming to the piece, Roet has incorporated a soundtrack for the work derived from field recordings that mimic these sneezing sounds. Future generations of the small fragment populations of the monkey that remain are currently at risk due to deforestation of their habitat. By drawing on the image of the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey and transplanting it into a bustling metropolis, Roet engages in discourse concerning the contrast of urban and natural environments, our human connection to nature, and issues of sustainability.
We are all apes, is artist Lisa Roet’s clarion call in I am Ape, a new monograph of her three decade career.