Man Stupid


7 charcoal drawings on Fabriano paper

Man stupid, 150 x 200cm

See Nature *1, 150 x 200cm

See Nature *2, 150 x 200cm

See Nature *3, 150 x 200cm

Fix Nature *twins, 150 x 200cm

I am animal, flowers, 150 x 200cm

Koko Cry, 150 x 200cm

Man Stupid is a series of large-scale charcoal drawings. Each one is based on a phrase from the captive gorilla Koko’s short sign language speech to the COP21 climate change conference in 2015 via video link. In one drawing, the gorilla has grown an extra arm to sign while in another she has been joined by a twin. In others still, figurative elements have been melted down to hair on an unidentifiable bone joint or a disembodied flap of skin. Coutts experiments with representation, never settling on a single solution. The traumatic image of a female gorilla trained to adopt a human form of communication to convey what humans are doing wrong here means relentlessly questioning how to revisit her image. Rather than attempting to capture, or fix, the gorilla in the act of signing instead the possibilities of visual articulation are held plural, she is kept ‘live’, resisting her image becoming archival or obsolete.

Man Stupid is one of the phrases that Koko signed and also the overall title for this series. Also included in this body of work is See Nature, Theory of Mind and Thought Sequence.

See the publication Beast.