Friday, 19 August 2011

The charm of roaches

Published by Aperture Foundation, American Cockroach is a fascinating, if not enlightening, book by artist Catherine Chalmers. Be warned, if you dislike cockroaches, and there are almost 4,000 species, you're unlikely to be charmed. However, if you're feeling brave then you will be rewarded by this study of the most persecuted species on the planet. Grouped into three main sections: Residents; Imposters; and Execution, American Cockroach considers humanity more than it does the humble roach. Catherine's final section is perhaps the most poignant. Cockroaches are posed in various states of execution: the electric chair; hanging; and being burned at the stake, which are normally reserved for members of the community who have committed grievous crimes. The question Catherine asks is what have cockroaches done that is so bad that we have devised endless ways to kills them? For a species that has been around for some 400 million years, perhaps we need to think about them differently?