Cecil: A Love Story
Joseph Gross Gallery
548 W. 28th Street New York, NY 10001
October 6 – 29, 2016
On October 6th, Joseph Gross Gallery opened Cecil: A Love Story, a multimedia exhibition by Joseph Grazi that examines the public’s erratic moral compass in the wake of highly publicized tragedies revolving around the death of Cecil the Lion .
On August 15, 2015 the world learned through a flurry of rage posts populating social media newsfeeds that the (until then widely unknown) Zimbabwean icon Cecil the Lion was killed by a trophy hunter. The hunter responsible, a white, privileged dentist named Walter Palmer, had become the most hated man on the planet overnight.
Cecil: A Love Story scrutinizes the public’s alarmingly inconsistent morals, particularly in relation to animals. Through various media, the artist creates a dialogue surrounding how we perceive and process atrocities committed against human beings versus those against animals. Why did killing of Cecil the Lion by Walter Palmer make front page news over a terrorist attack that happened in the same week? Why did Jimmy Kimmel cry over the death of Cecil, but not after 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram?
Having worked with lions in Africa for a period of time, Grazi brings an informed perspective to the exhibition that contrasts the suburban American mentality surrounding wildlife. Wildlife, the artist argues, is a human construction. People say “don’t play God,” but rather, he states, “we already are God.” The wilds are only wild because humans allow it to exist.
Further, the artist investigates what it is specifically about lions that has infatuated humans throughout history. A timeless tradition and continuous obsession, with imagery carved into ancient churches to the modern suburban home – the exhibition begs the question “why are lions so special?” It dives deep into our collective consciousness to discover why Cecil, of all creatures and all lions, was deemed so extraordinary.
About the Artist:
Brooklyn born artist Joseph Grazi graduated with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC in 2006. He has since exhibited widely throughout NYC, with solo shows at (Art) Amalgamated and Joseph Gross Gallery, as well as group shows at The Untitled Space. He was featured in XXXX, The Untitled Magazine’s “Voyeur” exhibition at Art Basel Miami in 2010.
Grazi utilizes a wide variety of media such as taxidermic animals, acrylics, wood and other materials, compositionally designed to neutralize fear through order and arrangement. Animal and human skulls, bones and taxidermic bats are only some of the elements that, when put together, can trigger fright and relief at the same time. His goal is to alleviate the most ancient fears through acknowledgment of individual power and control in the hope that such acknowledgment can lead to a better understanding of our place in the natural world.
Grazi currently lives and works in Chelsea, New York City, where he also moonlights as the frontman in the art rock band Ferrari Truck.