Fernando do Campo: To companion a companion
To companion a companion is a playful exhibition of new work by Argentinean-Australian artist Fernando do Campo that proposes humans as a companion species to birds.
The term ‘companion species’ was popularised in the academic work of ecofeminist Donna Harraway, specifically her 2003 publication The Companion Species Manifesto. In this text Harraway explores the curious relationships humans have established with dogs across histories and cultures, describing how these two species evolved in tandem within a complex interplay of functional exchanges. Do Campo’s To companion a companion pushes Harraway’s concept of ‘companioning’ a step further, opening up the idea of companioning as a methodology for developing more ethical and meaningful human—animal relationships.
In do Campo’s work, it is the history of our co-habitation with birds rather than with dogs that comes into focus. While many of our more adored and revered bird species are indigenous to their environment, others have been introduced into new landscapes as part of wider colonialist and nationalist projects. Today, the legacy of these historical relationships exist around us but often escapes unnoticed, forming part of a sonic landscape that reveals how human history distorts environments and ecologies.
To companion a companion is a humorous, often cheeky, ode to the companion species that flit amongst us.
View The Companion Companion Reader online here. The Companion Companion Reader is a collection of commissioned writings by invited human companions from multiple disciplines.
Image: Fernando do Campo, Pishing in the archive, 2021, single channel HD video, (production still).
11 March - 21 May 2023
About the artist
Fernando do Campo (b. Mar del Plata, Argentina 1987) is an artist and academic based in Sydney where he is Art Domain Coordinator at UNSW Art & Design. Since 2015 he also produces work as the HSSH (House Sparrow Society for Humans). Fernando’s practice engages the histories of non-human animals via anthropomorphism, speculative fiction and archival research. The global south and the legacies of colonialism and modernism that hold these animal narratives are a focus for both his research and the material studio explorations. Recent projects have focused on the possibility of painting as a diaristic archival process and listening as a performative gesture through which to complicate the anthropocentric gaze of both the maker and viewer of artworks. Fernando has presented solo exhibitions in Australia and the USA, and group exhibitions internationally. He is a Sir General John Monash Foundation Scholar, the first artist to ever receive this prestigious award for emerging Australian leaders to study abroad. Fernando is currently working on an ongoing research project with the Green-Wood Cemetery and the Brooklyn Museum, New York and an iterative solo exhibition being co-presented by Contemporary Art Tasmania, UNSW Galleries and PICA across 2021-22 and touring nationally in 2023. He was Artist-in-Residence at the State Library of NSW 2021-22 and is represented by Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert, Sydney.
To Companion a Companion is a collaborative project by Contemporary Art Tasmania, UNSW Galleries and PICA toured by Contemporary Art Tasmania.
Contemporary Art Tasmania is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its principal arts funding body, by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy and is assisted through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for the Arts.