Michele Searle statement: When I left my Mount Pleasant condo and moved into my Strathcona home, I started to garden. I became intensely aware of and attached to the wildlife that frequent it. My appreciation for the importance of green space also intensified, not just for the importance of human recreation, but for animal habitation as well.
This year when skunks moved in under the back deck, and inevitably, under the house, I could not believe it when one evening, a raccoon popped its head out of the skunks den entrance. And so my work began.
On the internet I read that skunks and raccoons will swap dens but not share dens. I spoke to animal control and was assured that if raccoons were there, the skunks would have moved out. I was also assured that if skunks were there, I would not have rats. I had seen all three by this time. Furthermore, animal control did not believe that neighborhood cats had been sniffing around if raccoons were present.
So I decided to set up a security camera to see who had moved in: 3 skunks, 2 raccoons and multiple rats, all sharing the same den. They exited and entered only minutes apart. Even though there was already obviously no vacancy, the skunks appeared to be showing more adult skunks the den!
Space is at a premium in the city. There is a need for habitat, home, and place for urban wildlife in a developing city.
The video is a compilation of footage collected at the various stages of the (humane) eviction of these tenants, of the animals that I deeply care about. Logistically, it is a work I plan to develop and refine, but this iteration serves as my (and hopefully the onlookers) revelation of the strange and magical world of urban wildlife.
Created during grunt gallery’s 2019 Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen Digital Storytelling workshops with Mount Pleasant residents. grunt gallery was founded in 1984 in Vancouver, BC with the vision to become an internationally renowned artist-run centre and further the practice of contemporary art. Through the exploration of our diverse Canadian cultural identity, we are able to offer public programming in the form of exhibitions, performances, artist talks, publications, and other special projects in the community. Our mandate is to inspire public dialogue by creating an environment conducive to the emergence of innovative, collaborative, and provocative contemporary art.