What Lost Pet Posters Mean

// Opening Wednesday 14 November, 6pm
// Exhibition runs Thursday 15 November – Saturday 1 December

The John Dory Report (JDR) is a subscription based contemporary arts zine loosely based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Recent issues have focused on the performance anxieties inherent to the work of Kathryn Andrews and Ann Liv Young; New Zealand’s pre-Aotearoan Land of Birds mythology; the constitutive role of nature’s value within ideations of suburbia; Simon Lawrence’s preoccupation with botanic agency and the negative attributes of the merely human; and the beachcomber devolution apparent in the drawings of Mark Braunias. This latest issue, number 47 swaps the zine format for that of a gallery-based exhibition and focuses specifically on the meaning of lost pet posters.

Explored in relation to a collection of over seventy posters, What Lost Pet Posters Mean takes its point of departure from these posters’ unique expression of human estrangement and grief. With their appeals to home and family these missives openly demonstrate the constitutive role pets play within human domesticity, an aspect made all the more evident by the rupture their disappearance causes.  However, while these posters may be thought of as cathartic human texts we should not mistake them for obituaries, but rather possessive claims on potentially autonomous subjects.

Appearing on doorsteps, power poles, through letter-boxes, inserted into newspapers, and posted upon community centre notice-boards, lost pet posters stake out something of the potential or likely presence of an entity capable of living in two worlds.  Hence, whilst these posters are repositories of human sentiment, reminding us (humans) just how much the pet is a social subject stitched into humanised kinship practices, they are also potent reminders that our pets inhabit a subaltern animal geography that extends all around us.  Connected to notions of partial domestication and porous urbanism, lost pet posters proliferate a tactical network, marking out a hybrid geography through which we can glimpse the multitude of agencies at work in a world no longer defined by purely human concerns.

The John Dory Report was founded in 2004 and has been published on a sporadic basis ever since. Publicly accessible collections of the zine can be found in the University of Auckland’s Elam Library, the University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Library, and in the Christchurch City Public Library’s ephemeral collection.