Chemin’s prints explore the relationships and similarities between rats and children. Referencing folklore and popular culture the artist creates a fantasy world where rats are kings and we humans are perhaps vermin. In Europe rats are associated with death and disease as scavengers of food to be eliminated on site, whereas children are sacred symbols of optimism of posterity and the future. This ideal is most famously exemplified in the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the dark tale of Frankie Gammyfoot a disgruntled unpaid rat catcher who took revenge on the people of Hamelin by luring 130 children away never to be seen again.
Chemins images question our perspective asking if rats are the true inhabitants of the cities and whether humans are the real pests. Some images are anthropomorphic, the rats become eloquent orators of their own cause in other images rats and children are morphed together producing beguiling creatures of pity and mirth.
Perhaps we should have more respect for rats, after all experiments on rats are responsible for huge advancements in science and medicine. The rat is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac those born in the year of the rat are said to posses’ qualities of creativity, honesty, generosity and ambition. Anyone who has ever owned a pet rat will know that they are highly intelligent, clean and affectionate creatures.