Public engagement project

Nashashibi/Skaer: Chimera

CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland | Phase Four

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Start date

May 2021

Completion date

August 2021

Traversing mythology, nature, language and interpretation, Chimera, the exhibition for CURRENT Phase Four by Nashashibi/Skaer—the joint practice of Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer—brings a specific perspective to the visual fabric of ‘the contemporary’ through the lens of their artist’s films.

Composed of three films, Chimera examines the act of looking and the transformative potential of film by reprising Paul Nash’s evocative 1944 painting Flight of the Magnolia in Our Magnolia and blurring the distinctions between the wild and the farmed in Lamb and its sequel, the newly-produced film Bear.

Viewing one animal through the outline of another, Bear pivots on how the body of a sheep is transformed from within, leading to the emergence of a new creature, a lamb. Situating birth as an archetypal inscription of metamorphosis, the film considers how the bear and lamb, the predator and the prey, the wild and the farmed, inhabit the same body or limits. Suggestive of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Bear contrasts the act of giving birth to the mythical transformations of Zeus and other gods into animals on earth. The soundtrack of the film developed in collaboration with Cantonese opera artist Zhuo Peili, features the word ‘bear’ sung in both English and Cantonese alongside traditional Cantonese opera compositions selected from Zhou’s previous works. Bear also provides the starting point for a new woodblock print produced in collaboration with Chinese artist Xu Zhiwei.

In Chimera, Nashashibi/Skaer expose the slippages of context and meaning implicit in moments of transformation. Calling forth a mythic territory rife with contested cultural histories and unsettled archetypes, Chimera deploys the associative visual logic characteristic of our unstoppable contemporary, challenging us to visually speculate on the inherent uncertainty of the real.

Chimera installation

Nashashibi/Skaer, Chimera, 2021. Installation views by OCAT Shenzhen. Photography by Huang Jing. Courtesy of OCAT Shenzhen and Cooper Gallery.


Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer are artists with international solo careers, but they also collaborate as Nashashibi/Skaer. Nashashibi/Skaer met in Glasgow and began working together in 2005. Their films have shown internationally to critical acclaim at venues such as the Berlin Biennial 5, Tate Britain, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the ICA London and they are represented in public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pompidou, FRAC Marseille, and Arts Council Collection, UK. Recent works have taken existing artworks as their starting point, such as Why Are You Angry? which utilises Gauguin’s vision of the south seas. This film, premiered at Documenta 14, and formed part of a retrospective exhibition for Tate St Ives 2018. In 2019, Nashashibi/Skaer had a major show Future Sun at SMAK in Ghent. This brought together their solo practises and collaboration for the first time and was a site of fruitful cross pollination for both. A recent film Lamb resulted – their first collaboration with composers and musicians. The sequel, Bear, produced in collaboration with Cantonese Opera singers and musicians will debut at OCAT Shenzhen for CURRENT Phase Four.

Rosalind Nashashibi won the Beck’s Futures Prize in 2003, represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2017. Lucy Skaer represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2009.

Nashashibi/Skaer: Chimera runs concurrent to the exhibition Variations of Assembly by Corin Sworn for CURRENT: Phase Four.

CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland (Phase Four), a collaborative project between Cooper Gallery DJCAD, University of Dundee in Scotland and OCAT Shenzhen, in partnership with the British Council.

CURRENT | Contemporary Art from Scotland is kindly supported by the British Council, China-UK Connections through Culture, The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Scottish Government. CURRENT is a direct result of the Research and Development Trip (January 2014) funded by Creative Scotland.

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Related groups

Cooper Gallery