Creative: Herding Humans

Annika Walsh

Annika Walsh is a transdisciplinary artist who was born in Chuzhou, China and adopted at 11 months of age by her family in Canada. She works with a variety of ingredients, materials, and collaborators to form her conceptual pieces. Her practice ranges from exploration of cultural identity to participatory food performances, and everything in between. Striving to blur the lines and push the boundaries, Annika makes a habit of traversing many disciplines, including sculptural installation, performance, and media.


When cows are in a large open pasture, the main objective that drives their movement is to find more food. In my observations, they do not socialize much, other than when they are eating together. During the COVID pandemic, our global condition often kept us socially distant from each other. We learned to cherish the ‘physical time’ we have with each other; sharing a meal with someone has come to mean more than it used to. Food has always been a centralizing part of our human culture, not just for survival, but because of its power to facilitate socialize.

This installation connects two surrounding establishments near its site: The Ottawa Civic Hospital and the Central Experimental Farm (both in Ottawa, Ontario). My intention was to create an opportunity for human interaction that mirrors the way cows might interact in a similar, large, open field. The coldness of the glass panes read as human-made and bring aspects of the hospital—such as the blue-white light of the emergency room—into the colour scheme of the sculpture. The structure itself was inspired by food troughs that might be scattered in and around the farm. The placement of the trough in the open field echos the layout of cow pastures. Even though the image projected within the structure may not read as “food” to humans, the way people are drawn to it, and move through the site, suggest a kind of consumption that is similar to the way more-bovine mammals interact with their feed.

aerial view of a field between the Ottawa Civic Hospital and the Experimental Farm
Figure 1: The placement of the installation.
night-time view of a field with a glowing art installation at the centre
Figure 2: The installation at night.
the artist's 'trough' in her studio
Figure 3: The construction of the ‘trough’.
the artist's 'trough' in situ and lit up at night
Figure 4: The ‘trough’ lit up at night.



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Food Studies: Matter, Meaning, Movement Copyright © 2022 by Annika Walsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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