• Jeffrey Stuker - Next Year in Monte Carlo

    24 February - 6 April 2023
  • Jeffrey Stuker, Mimicry and the Monte Carlo Predator, 2019-2020 (excerpt)
  • Ben Hunter is delighted to present Jeffrey Stuker’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition features a digitally rendered film, Mimicry and the Monte Carlo Predator, following its presentation at the Hammer Museum, LA in 2021. The film mirrors a large-format print of a computer-generated image of Common Mime butterflies in the adjacent room. The exhibition explores Stuker’s natural-historical and aesthetic interests in mimicry. What initially appears to be an exhibition of traditional lens-based media, is in fact an exhibition of digitally constructed imagery, produced by the artist from scratch. There is no camera, no lens, and no captured subject involved in the making of these works. Rather, the subject here is the lure of the image-making process itself, which can not only manifest deceptive representations of reality, but also, as the animal kingdom shows, play a trick that forestalls death.

    The Papilio clytia dissimilis, or Common Mime butterfly, serves as a good example of this phenomenon. As a Batesian mimic, this harmless species has evolved to imitate the warning signs of a highly toxic species in its biome. A large-format print of the butterflies captures a moment of stillness in absolute clarity, the creatures’ delicate legs gently poised on sand so detailed one can discern individual grains. This butterfly has developed markings and flight patterns that simulate those of the Euploea core, a species unpalatable to predators due to their consumption of the poisonous plants in the apocynaceae family. Poisonous and thus protected, the Euploea, which, for example has the luxury of flying in a leisurely manner, still finds itself in the mouth of confused predators. Thanks to its mimic, the species that should need neither mimicry nor camouflage, the Euploea core, has had to resort to mimicry. These two species of butterfly form the basis of Stuker’s film, Mimicry and the Monte Carlo Predator, which, in a parallel mimetic impulse, has been digitally modeled and painted by the artist, tempting the eye into consuming it as captured footage.
    In the film, the purported camera unhurriedly observes the two nearly identical butterfly species through a negative magnifier on a film strip, or in a neat entomological display. Long pans slowly reveal details from the edge of the frame that synch up with––and fall away from––natural, historical, and technological histories recounted by voiceover. Each is a tale of calculated deception: Xenophon’s army, known for their skill to evade capture, are poisoned by honeycomb laced with the toxic oleander plant; the prospects and dangers of the Papilio clytia and Euploea Core; and research simulating the eating habits of their predator, the Kingfisher bird, using the Monte Carlo Equation by means of a computer.
    The Monte Carlo Equation is enlisted by Stuker to simulate the physics of light as it renders his meticulously textured and modeled animations. Because the veracity of the historical accounts his film tells is illuminated by means of simulation, the problem of distinction is given new density. Without a single apocryphal utterance, the border between individual and environment, consumption and resistance, and even the real and the imaginary, begins to dissolve.



    Jeffrey Stuker was born in Colorado in 1979. He lives and works in Los Angeles. Stuker will be included in Pacific Strandard Time at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles and the University of California, San Diego in 2024. Recent exhibitions include Plates from a Defoliated Monograph, Fulcrum Press, Los Angeles, 2023; Throughline, Bureau, Los Angeles, 2023; Objects of Desire, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2022; Made in LA, The Hammer Museum and The Huntington Garden, Museum and Library, Los Angeles, 2020-2021; International Biennial of Photography, Thessaloniki Museum of Photography: Thessaloniki, Greece, 2021-22. He received a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University and an MFA from Yale University, where he also taught from 2006 to 2013. Stuker is currently a co-editor of the journal Effects and a lecturer at the University of California, San Diego.

  • Jeffrey Stuker Papilio clytia dissimilis, 2022 archival pigment print 39 7/8 x 70 7/8 in. | 101.24 x 180 cm
    Jeffrey Stuker
    Papilio clytia dissimilis, 2022
    archival pigment print
    39 7/8 x 70 7/8 in. | 101.24 x 180 cm