Exploring A New Earth Consciousness
Totem Body is an ongoing, online exhibition of artwork by Barry Cottrell some of which went on tour in the UK during 2011. The purpose of this work is to explore and highlight a certain understanding of the human body – that it is also an animal body and as such belongs to the natural world.
The exhibition uses the technique of monoprint to explore the human body as a ritual space in which our animal selves can be rediscovered. For as psychologist Peter Levine points out: "most of us have become separated from our natural instinctual selves - in particular, the part of us that can proudly, not disparagingly, be called animal."
We are part of nature. Indigenous peoples have always known this, and tribal societies generally embrace the shamanistic worldview in which the whole universe is experienced as alive, animated by invisible spiritual forces.
We are human animals, just as a cat is a feline animal and a dog is a canine animal. It is this knowledge which forms the basis of the two main ideas presented in this exhibition – that the human body may be experienced as a power animal which can energize and protect us; and that it may also be understood as a totem animal – as a unifying symbol for the whole human race.
Our animal body is what we all have in common. While the separateness of each human body has been a symbol in the past of one individual's separateness and isolation from another, the body as a totem animal can bring a sense of kinship and sharing to the whole human species and unite us as human beings.