June 25, 2015

Nichola Kinch and The Gerrymander Menagerie

By Katelyn Wood, Arlington Arts Center’s Curatorial & Exhibitions Intern

The Gerrymander Menagerie, installation view. Photo by Greg Staley.
The Gerrymander Menagerie, installation view. Photo by Greg Staley.

The term menagerie is derived from the French language, and was defined in 1782 as ‘an establishment of luxury and curiosity.’ Merriam-Webster now defines it as a collection of exotic animals – kept and trained for the purpose of exhibition. Coined in 1812, the term gerrymander refers to a political maneuver that manipulates the boundaries of voting districts for the purpose of political advantage.

As the 2016 presidential election grows closer, we’re bombarded with campaigns of those seeking to obtain a candidacy. With media coverage and speculation beginning earlier every election year, it is no surprise that Nichola Kinch’s The Gerrymander Menagerie portrays the political arena as a full-blown circus.

Pennsylvania-based artist Nichola Kinch is amongst the artists currently showing at AAC in the 2015 Spring SOLOS exhibition. Her work combines animation, optics, engineering, design, and 3D printing to create an exhibition commenting on the theatricality of politics.

Entrance to The Gerrymander Menagerie. Photo by Greg Staley.
Entrance to The Gerrymander Menagerie. Photo by Greg Staley.
Flight of Drones can be seen in the background, with the Dog and Pony show in the foreground. Photo by Greg Staley.
Flock of Drones can be seen in the background, with Horse and Pony show in the foreground. Photo by Greg Staley.

As if coming onto a stage, the viewer enters the space through a red velvet curtain that opens up into a scene resembling a night under the big top.

Using her knowledge of Victorian-era image production practices and moving image machines, Kinch presents three interactive installations that animate symbols from the political world.

Horse and Pony show presents a handcrafted zoetrope that animates the iconic symbols of the traditional two-party system. Through 3D printed models of elephants and donkeys, Kinch invites the audience to indulge in the wonder of this analog animation.

A detail of Clown Alley, a series of shadow casters that portray the silhouettes of potential 2016 presidential election candidates. Photo by Greg Staley.
A detail of Clown Alley, a series of shadow casters that portray the silhouettes of potential 2016 presidential election candidates. Photo by Greg Staley.

Using a modified overhead projector, in Flock of Drones, Nichola mechanizes a lenticular animation of a series of drones that appear to fly across the gallery wall when using a hand crank.

The third element of this menagerie is a series of plastic 3D-printed shadow casters in the shape of silhouettes of the potential candidates for the 2016 presidential race. When back-lit Clown Alley projects the shadows of the potential candidates on the wall.


Come see Nichola’s exhibition in AAC’s Experimental Gallery on the Lower Level, spin the zoetrope, and crank the handle of the Flock of Drones. Her show, along with her fellow SOLOS artists’, will be closing Sunday at 5 pm. Our galleries are free and open to the public Wednesday  – Sunday, noon to 5 pm.

Golden: Fifty Years of New Classics

UPCOMING: Opens June 15, 2024

Curated by Al Miner

Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington is proud to present Golden: Fifty Years of New Classics, an exhibition celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary.

Summer Camp Registration

June 17 – August 16

Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington offers a wonderful and wide range of creative summer camps for your creative students! Camps are offered for kids starting at age 5 and up to teens ages 18.

Zaq Landsberg: Reclining Liberty

August 5, 2023 - July 28, 2024

Front Lawn
MoCA Arlington and Arlington Public Art are thrilled to co-sponsor the installation of Zaq Landsberg’s celebrated Reclining Liberty on the Museum’s front lawn.

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