Sri Lanka Project: Discover the Spirit of Buddha in the Land of Elephants

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In case you find yourself in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the coming weeks, three of the photographs from the Sri Lanka project will be exhibited as part of INTERSPECIES at The Gallery Project. The event will be January 3-February 11, 2013, curated by Linda Kalof, Rocco DePietro and Gloria Pritschet.

The Interspecies exhibit focuses on the complex and changing relationships between humans and animals and between various animal species.  As a culture, our understanding of these relationships  is often based on false and outdated assumptions about animal intelligence and behavior.

New research  mainly from field biologists and anthropologists is finding evidence of intergroup cooperation and communication including such behaviors as sharing of territories and food,  cooperative hunting, reciprocity, mutualism, care giving, play, and anti-predator behaviors such as alarm calls and signaling.

While cooperation is the primary focus of the exhibit, other forms of interactions will be explored including exploitation.  For example, wild gorillas have worked together to destroy human designed snares.  We are also interested in what happens when animal habitats are encroached by humans and vice versa.

The exhibit will also look at human relationships with animals, not the pet variety, but the substantial forms of communication and interaction with wild animals.  There are numerous examples of cooperative hunting with birds and other species.  Animals have even been harnessed by the military and police.  We have bomb and drug sniffing dogs and bottlenose dolphins locating and defusing mines.  We also have historical examples of researchers establishing communication with various animal species most notably Irene Pepperberg with Alex an African gray parrot, and Penny Patterson with Koko a lowland gorilla.

Artists, scientists, and others in the exhibit will make an effort to visualize these behaviors and to imagine other forms of cooperation and interactions that are still yet to be fully researched and documented.