The Jollies

The Jollies is a 12 minute 4 channel video installation completed July 2016. The film is a biographical artwork about the late primate scientist and conservationist, Alison Jolly, which gave me an opportunity to talk to and about the first generation of women primatologists. It was commissioned for a show at the Queensland Technical University in Australia, curated by Rachael Parsons, Lubi Thomas, and Trish Adams, called Femel Fissions. For the exhibition, a group of women artists were asked to make artworks “inspired by a historical woman scientist.” I interviewed Jolly’s colleagues as well as Donna Haraway, animated their faces and voices to different animal characters, and made a four channel video installation; two pairs face each other as if in conversation.

Here is a three minute trailer.

The primatologist Alison Jolly (1937-2014) was known for her pioneering theory on the evolution of social intelligence developed through her study of ring-tailed lemurs. Her scientific and conservation work drew worldwide attention to the unique ecosystem of Madagascar. In this biographical artwork, the artist presents interviews with Jolly’s network of colleagues, friends, and family. Many voices articulate the significance of her scientific discoveries as well as her career: group living over tool making as a driver for evolution, her description of a female dominant primate society, the role of play in learning, as well as her place in the first generation of women in the field of primatology and her development of community-based conservation. Monkeys, lemurs, and other nonhuman characters animate the conversation, producing reflection about humans as part of the primate order, social network, and ecosystem.

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy …langur
Pat Wright ….ring-tailed lemur
Margaretta Jolly ….baby ring-tailed lemur with mother
Hanta Rasamimanana ….mouse lemur
Alison Richard …sifaka
Donna Haraway …Australian shepherd

Animation assistance:
April Makgeong and Stephanie Zellner

Sound mix:
Mike Brigman

By Rachel Mayeri c. 2016
In collaboration with Deborah Forster
Commissioned by QUT for Femel Fissions
Produced with a grant from Harvey Mudd College
With support from Djerassi/Leonardo Scientific Delirium Madness residency


All content © Copyright 2017 by Rachel Mayeri.
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