Perhaps appropriately in the week of All Souls when the devout remember the dead, Marian Goodman Gallery opened their new show Animality (until 17 December) on Friday with a private sance, albeit one to raise the spirits of birds, rather than people. It was super-strict and very solemn with a prompt start and no entrance for latecomerswhich excluded your tardy correspondentand pictures absolutely not permitted.
Quite what the extinct birds being channeled by the Guatemalan artist Naufus Ramrez-Figueroa would have made of the likes of the Guardian art critic Adrian Searle, the Goldsmiths professor Michael Newman and the Hayward Gallery curator Cliff Lauson all seated in a circle, holding hands with white cloths on their heads is debatable. Maybe the napkins were to guard against ectoplasmic excretions, but when the illustrious participants eventually emerged after nearly an hour of communing with various defunct species, the only dousing they had received was that of fragrant rosewater, sprinkled over them by the artist. In addition, the sance supplicants also freed their hands to produce some rather striking drawings of imaginary birds conjured up from across the spiritual divide (although Mr Searles was also apparently inspired by knots in the wooden floor) and were then encouraged to make the sounds of the same birds.
However, these strange summonings fitted in a treat amidst the often bizarre bestiary brought together in the rest of this ambitious exhibition curated by Jens Hoffmann and devoted to interrogating our relationship with the rest of the worlds creatures. Foras works by more than 70 artists including the likes of Mark Dion, Karen Kilimnik, Carsten Hller and Berlinde de Bruyckere amply confirmthere is nothing quite as extreme as the artistic imagination.