Symposium and Exhibition

The Animal Gaze Archive

The Animal Gaze (2008) and The Animal Gaze Returned (2011) were events organised by Rosemarie McGoldrick for London Metropolitan University.

For cost reasons, all the content from the web pages for the 2008 and 2011 events (symposia and exhibitions) is now stored on one page here (below).

The Animal Gaze 2011 Archive

below)

Exhibition: Oct 24 - Nov 11th, 2011

The Animal Gaze Returned exhibition took place in the Faculty's gallery spaces in Central House opposite the Whitechapel Gallery and at 41 Commercial Road from Oct 24th to Noveember 11th, 2011 (Cass Gallery, Central House and the Cass Gallery, Commercial Road).

This group show included work from 14 artists invited to submit via a process of curatorial research.    

Participating artists in the 2011 show in London

Greta Alfaro
Edwina Ashton
Steve Baker
Suky Best
Ian Brown
Helen Bullard
Darren Harvey-Regan
Kathy High (USA)
Rosemarie McGoldrick
Aurelia Mihai (Romania)
Lucy Powell (Germany)
Andrea Roe
Bob and Roberta Smith
Snaebjornsdottir Wilson
David Wood


Symposium programme

DAY 1 Oct 27th, 2011

10.00 Professor Malcolm Gillies, Vice-Chancellor of London Metropolitan University
10.15 Lucy Kimbell (Oxford), artist and designer
One Night with Rats in the Service of Art 
10.40 Audience Discussion
11.00 Coffee
11.35 Keynote: Professor Steve Baker (UCLAN)
Animal as Medium
12.20 Audience Discussion
12.45 Lunch
14.00 Professor Bryndis Snaebjornsdottir (Valand), artist
Vanishing Point: Where Species Meet
14.30 Suky Best (RCA)
The Observation of Flight: Birds and the Invention of Cinema 
15.00 Audience Discussion
15.30 Tea
16.00 Professor Olivier Richon (RCA), artist 
The Animal, Mimicry and the Mouth
16.30 Audience discussion
17.30 Private View of The Animal Gaze Returned exhibition in the Central House Gallery

DAY 2 Oct 28th, 2011

10.00 Keynote: Professor David Wood (Vanderbilt), artist
Animal Architects: The Bangladeshi Sand Crab
10.45 Audience Discussion
11.00 Coffee
11.30 Professor Mysoon Rizk (Toledo)
Screen Play: Ants and Other Animals in David Wojnarowicz's 'A Fire in My Belly'
12.00 Rikke Hansen (London Met)
The "Absent Presence" of Animals in Modernist Aesthetics
12.30 Audience Discussion
13.00 Lunch
14.00 Kira O'Reilly, artist
Contingent and partial bodies within and without the laboratory
14.30 Dr Johanna Hallsten (Loughborough), artist
Chirp, Tweet, Tweet, Chirp, Tweet: On Communing with Others
15.00 Audience Discussion
15.20 Tea
16.00 Dr Anat Pick (UEL)
Attention and Observation in the Video Works of Chen Sheinberg
16.30 Audience discussion
17.00 End of symposium.

Abstracts for The Animal Gaze Returned symposium (Oct 27-28, 2011)

Professor Steve Baker, University of Central Lancashire
Animal as Medium

What is the nature of contemporary artists’ interest in animals? Might that interest, at least to a certain degree, be in the animal as medium? To put this a little more clearly, is the animal the medium in which these artists are working?

These questions are asked specifically with reference to Rosalind Krauss’s influential discussion of “art in the age of the post-medium condition.” Krauss locates the historical emergence of the post-medium condition in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as a reaction by artists against the “militantly reductive modernism” associated with Clement Greenberg. The advent of practices such as video art, mixed-media installation and institutional critique at that time would “shatter the notion of medium-specificity,” leaving Krauss in no doubt that “we now inhabit a post-medium age.”

In a characteristically complex art-historical move, Krauss discusses the post-medium condition of contemporary art while maintaining the term medium to characterize its various new manifestations. She does not herself discuss the animal as medium, but her argument does not seem to preclude the idea. My own interest is to consider what might shift, or become thinkable, if the animal (and here, contra Derrida, it is very much “the animal” rather than “animals”) could be thought of as medium rather than subject matter. How could this be articulated? How would it work, and what sense would it make, when applied to artists who still work with relatively conventional media as well as to those whose practices take less familiar forms? And how does the idea of animal-as-medium sit alongside other forms of thinking about animals?


David Wood, W Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, USA)
Animal Architects: The Bangladeshi Sand Crab


Suky Best, artist, Royal College of Art
The Observation of Flight: Birds and the Invention of Cinema

A brief history of the invention of cinema and how closely linked it is to technical advances created especially to observe the flight of birds. J E Marey and his advances in the capture of movement. How advances in technology continue to use bird flight to prove the veracity of the image. To show an animation made in response to these histories.


Kira O'Reilly, artist
Contingent and partial bodies within and without the laboratory

Interkingdoms, tinkering kingdoms and tinkering with kingdoms, the contemporary ‘new’ media of live and living materials within biological arts practice both explore and scrutinise through the matter of 'matter' the emergence of materials and knowledge systems from the life sciences and their attendant technologies. These tanglings and entanglings of techné and biomedia across, betwixt and between contexts of biological laboratories, domestic spaces, art spaces and outdoor spaces inform much of Kira O'Reilly's current art practice and research. These will be presented as modest provocations that unmoor living materials and biological practices from their defining disciplinary frameworks and render them mobile, articulating and performing. Citing key works from visual arts history, biotechnology history and current art practices, Kira will discuss her own practice of developing and participating in co-emerging contingent and partial bodies within and without the laboratory. These will include pigs and tails, raucous spiders, deeply unstable skeletal muscle cell cultures, filigree fungi, silken architectures, getting into the sterile hood and loitering at bus stops; gazing and peering, walking and falling and getting egg on her face. 


Mysoon Rizk, Associate Professor of Art History, Contemporary Art, University of Toledo (Ohio, USA)
Screen Play: Ants and Other Animals in David Wojnarowicz's 'A Fire in My Belly'

In late 2010, the world’s largest museum complex, the Washington, DC-based Smithsonian Institution, censored David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly (1986-87). Nearly a quarter century before, the American artist explored the luxury of being able to “just saunter over” the border to Mexico and Mexico City, to shoot most of this unfinished Super-8 film, which includes footage of fire ants swarming a Catholic crucifix on the ancient grounds of Teotihuacan. Ostensibly an articulation of traumas involved in growing up “queer in america,” as Wojnarowicz puts it, the work raises a broad range of ontological questions.

Apart from ants and humans, however, the debates responding to the censorship controversy mention no other species, despite the countless numbers on view, including: companies of horses and dogs (with cowboys), driving cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs to slaughter; roosters routinely sacrificed for cockfighting, bulls for the bullring, as well as captive animals in the name of circus entertainment; not to mention “wild” Mexican desert reptiles (e.g., lizards, snakes) and Mesoamerican serpent imagery. The purposeful voyeurism of A Fire in My Bellyunderscores political realities and economic disparities alongside a primitive and pervasive perpetration of latent, theatrical, and actual violence on mostly alienated bodies, especially those of animals. 


Olivier Richon, Professor of Photography, Royal College of Art,       The Animal. Mimicry and the Mouth 


Some animals, like the monkey or the parrot became allegories of representation, mimicry, repetition and depiction from the Classical age onwards. Yet what is the function of mimicry and how can we distinguish the allegorical use of an animal from the biological manifestations of mimetism?

Imitation implies a merging with what is being imitated. I become what surrounds me and I become what I imitate. Mimetism is predicated upon a form of incorporation. It has an oral dimension where the mouth becomes an instrument for knowing and seeing. Is this animal seeing, and is there an oral drive at the heart of mimicry that brings to the fore a cannibalistic drive for images and representations?

Such questions will be discussed with reference to Roger Caillois's texts on mimetism, Salvador Dali's notion of cannibalism and early psychoanalytic investigations of the oral drive.

Dr Johanna Hällsten, artist, Loughborough University
Chirp, Tweet, Tweet, Chirp, Tweet: On Communing with Others


The paper stems from an interest in the perpetual cycle of translation taking place between us, and the environment we find ourselves with\in. We enter and exit communicative situations continuously from the moment we awake to the minute we fall asleep. They are mediated and shared and difficult to distinguish as separate events. Language plays a vital role in this relation and process of communication, however, what is of interest here is not language per se but the sound, the aural aspects of the relationship in the translation process. 

This soundspace is shared with others, both human and animal. This paper will concentrate on the urban soundscape and the relationships we form with our animal cohabitants. As we move and inhabit non-places on a daily basis we could be said to trespass and occupy our animal neighbours spaces and pollute their homes. We share space, we regulate and orientate ourselves to their sonic behaviours without even realising, and so are they to our aural actions. There is a mutual interaction and crossing of sonic boundaries, which creates interesting interplays but also situations wherein dispute and disintegration can quickly occur. 

This paper asks whether there are perceptual commons that allow for communing with the Other? Furthermore, whether in that sharing, there is intrinsically always a mistranslation, and only through that mistranslation can we mediate and share the space in a meaningful way.


Professor Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir, artist, Valand School of Art (Gothenburg, Sweden)
Vanishing Point: Where Species Meet

Vanishing Point: Where Species Meet is the title of Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson’s most recent artwork, which will feature in the exhibition The Animal Gaze Returned. The title, which references Donna Haraway’s book When Species Meet, pinpoints significant ambiguities in meetings between human and animal. The focus of this artwork is the attempt by the artist to share a meal with members of another species, namely seagulls, on camera. The three-screen video work sets out the conditions for a meeting but does not fetishize or document the act of species coming together. The talk will explore the thinking behind this artwork and the processes of its making. It will question the ambition of recording an equal meeting between human and animal, at least on camera and in the context of contemporary art, whilst avoiding either being sensationalist or prompting readings of domestication. It proposes that despite the impossibility of a visual exposition of this meeting, a meeting has nevertheless occurred which as a consequence, provides the basis for considering the nature and the possibilities of such a connection.


Rikke Hansen, lecturer, London Metropolitan University, The "Absent Presence" of Animals in Modernist Aesthetics


This paper argues for the centrality of the animal aesthetic to modern art. According to the 20th century German philosopher, Theodor Adorno, non-human animals have a sort of ‘absent presence’ within modernist aesthetic thought that rubs on a wound caused by the marginalisation of them within modern, Western societies in general. In contrast to their current presence in contemporary art, animals are not directly representable in modern art; yet, they continue to haunt aesthetics from within. Here, rather than looking at examples of actual animal imagery (of which there are many), I argue for an “animal aesthetic” that in turn alters our approach to art and aesthetics in wider, historical terms.

Lucy Kimbell, designer and artist, Said Business School, University of Oxford
One Night with Rats in the Service of Art

An illustrated performance lecture in which Lucy Kimbell critically evaluates her aesthetic experiments with rats and assesses what she achieved against her original desire to create a Rat Evaluated Artwork. This project's development was supported byan AHRC creative and performing arts fellowship at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art and a sci-art Experiment Award from the Wellcome Trust. The project was created with help from curator Simon Gould, curator at the National Institute for Medical Research, experimental psychologist Dr Rob Deacon from Oxford University, and rat lover Sheila Sowter. IYRAA software created in collaboration with Something and Herbie Mueller 


The Animal Gaze 2008

Some of the proceedings of The Animal Gaze 2008 symposium are now published in the Journal of Visual Arts Practice 9.1 as of January 2011. The papers given by Giovanni Aloi (The Death of the Animal), Emily Brady (Animals in Environmental Art: Relationship and Aesthetic Regard), Ron Broglio (A Left-handed Primer for approaching Animal Art), Matthew Fuller (Art for Animals), Rikke Hansen (Animal Skins in Contemporary Art) and David Wood (Mirror Infractions in the Yucatan) appear in article format there, plus an introduction by Rosemarie McGoldrick.

The Animal Gaze 2008 Statement

Over the last 50 years, the representation of animals in contemporary art has shifted from traditional schemata into new modes. From Kounellis' Untitled (12 Horses) in 1969 and Beuys' coyote action I Like America and America Likes Me in 1974 to Damien Hirst's preserved animal vitrines and Eduardo Kac's transgenic green-fluorescent rabbit Alba, non-human animals have come to bear new meanings in Western culture.

These strands in fine art run parallel to new thinking about animals. From the Anglosphere, Peter Singer's utilitarianism and Donna Haraway's post-humanism are alive in politics in the shape of animal rights and ethical issues around genetic engineering. From Continental thinking, Jacques Derrida's swansong ruminations on the abyss between animals and humans and Deleuze and Guattari's ‘becoming-animal’ thrive in universities and art schools worldwide. As the global ecology movement has grown, so has awareness of anthropocentrism (a development sometimes decried now as anti-humanist).

Academics, too, have developed a flourishing field in the humanities called animal/human studies, a field that ranges across literature, philosophy and history to sociology, semiotics and geography. The study of animals in each discipline is used as a locus to question and inform theory, stance and argument. This was precisely the aim of The Animal Gaze.

The Animal Gaze was an event developed from practice-led university research in fine art. The intention was academic: to exhibit and examine new ways in which animals appear in contemporary art and the contingent ethics and aesthetics to which such practice may be subject.

The curatorial policy of The Animal Gaze was to avoid representations of animals which regularly appear elsewhere in the visual culture of our own species: ie, no animals as decoration, nor status symbols and vehicles for ancient mythology or totemic ritual. Any objects of affective or pathetic fallacy on display here were unconventional. Much was omitted - general animal portraiture and wildlife studies, anthropomorphs, regular animal/human hybrids and ironies around stuffed toys – questions already asked and answered over the years.

Instead, The Animal Gaze showed stances outside anthropocentrism, deconstructions of species taxonomy, constructions of the idea of difference and documentation of the consequences of indifference. At the same time, these works about animals and humans perhaps confirmed a trend discernible in recent art - an ascendancy of meaning or ambiguity over ineffability and surface, a move away from the gigantic, as well as more evidence of the profile afforded now to artist collaboration and cross-disciplinary research.

Exhibition: Nov 18 - Dec 12, 2008

The first stage of The Animal Gaze exhibition was held at Unit 2 Gallery, London E1 (directly opposite the Whitechapel Gallery), Unit 6 and Metropolitan Works (Commercial Road) from Nov 18th to Dec 12th 2008. In January 2009 the show tours to the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World at Exeter, Plymouth City Museum & Gallery, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth College of Art & Design and the Roland Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth.

This group show included work from over 40 artists, invited to submit via a process of curatorial research and from a general call

Participating Artists in the 2008 show in London and its 2009 tour to Plymouth & Exeter

Daniel Andersson (FIN)
Angela Bartram
Sarah Beddington
Catherine Bell (AUS)
Suky Best
Stephanie Black
Andrew Bracey
Mary Britton Clouse (USA)
Rich Broomhall
Chloe Brown
Paul Bush
Mircea Cantor (ROM)
Marcus Coates
Nicky Coutts
Roz Cran

Matilda Downs
Roswitha von der Driesch & Jens-Uwe Dyffort (GER)
Tessa Farmer
Kate Foster
Hayden Fowler (NZ)
Kathy High (USA)
Kate James (AUS)
Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan
Cathryn Jiggens
Jo Longhurst
Kate MccGwire

Rosemarie McGoldrick
Aurelia Mihai (ROM)
Daniel Mijic (GER)
Roz Mortimer
Melody Owen (USA)
Nicola Oxley
Kate Potter
Barbara Rauch
Andrea Roe
Claire Rousell
Clara Rueprich (GER)
Helen Sear
Snaebjornsdottir/Wilson
Miranda Whall
Martin White

Symposium: Nov 20-21, 2008

The Animal Gaze: Contemporary Art & Animal/Human Studies was a two-day  (Nov 20-21, 2008) symposium held at Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media & Design (London Metropolitan University). Invited speakers were artists, curators, academics and art historians with a special interest in the representation of animals in art today.

Speakers included: Steve Baker, Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Central Lancashire;
Rikke Hansen, Researcher at Tate Britain; Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson, Artist Collaboration; Clive Adams, Director, Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World, Exeter; Ron Broglio, Professor of Literature, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA; Jo Longhurst, Artist; Matthew Poole, Programme Director, Centre for Curatorial Studies, University of Essex; Dr Hilda Kean, Tutor in History and Acting Dean, Ruskin College, Oxford; David Wood, Centennial Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, USA; Emily Brady, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Edinburgh; Matthew Fuller, David Gee Reader in Digital Media, Goldsmiths; Marcus Coates, Artist; Giovanni Aloi, Lecturer in History of Art and Media Studies at Queen Mary, University of London and the Open University and Editor of Antennae, the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture; Dario Martinelli, Docent of Semiotics and Musicology, Helsinki. Rosemarie McGoldrick of London Metropolitan University chaired an hour-long session of delegate questions, and Professor Kate Soper of the Institute for the Study of European Transformations at London Metropolitan University provided the concluding overview.

Abstracts for The Animal Gaze: Contemporary Art & Animal/Human Studies


Steve Baker
Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Central Lancashire
'Self-portrait with human, or: What might Derrida's 'being-huddled-together' look like?'

In the course of his lengthy and famous reflection on the relation (both philosophical and quotidian) of humans and other animals, Jacques Derrida spoke of 'a certain order of the being-huddled-together'. Since many contemporary artists, including many of those represented in The Animal Gaze, have staged confrontations, inversions, juxtapositions, figurings and disfigurings, alignments and alliances of the human and the animal in their work, can any provisional observations be made about what that 'order of the being-huddled-together' (if it is indeed an order) might look like, and why?

Focusing on a small but varied group of specific artworks, some of which are included in the exhibition (for example work by Mary Britton Clouse and by Catherine Bell), and others of which are not (such as a non-existent work by Eduardo Kac), this paper will raise questions about certain dimensions of the huddling-together of artists and animals, and of animals and audiences. Since one characteristic of recent animal art is artists' preparedness to admit to not always knowing quite what it is that they’re doing (or not knowing quite what their viewers may do) alongside animals, the paper will reflect on how artists constitute themselves and the animals with whom they work. It will also consider whether Marco Evaristti - recently described as 'the most provocative artist of the decade' - is right to see the roles (and gazes) available to the viewers of such art as restricted to those of 'the idiot, the voyeur, the moralist'.


Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson

Artists
'Pests, Pets and Prey – Uncertainty in the City'
Contemporary artists test the borders in urban, human/animal relations

Long ago, settlements and therefore latterly, cities were predicated on the concept of refuge and a physical division of culture and nature. Clearly such division has proved increasingly porous as more and more animals and birds consider concentrations of human population an attraction rather than a deterrent because of the opportunities such culture provides in terms of habitat and feeding. For some, the presence of these creatures – pigeons, starlings, rats, mice, foxes and insects is a threat of some kind, a kind of leakage and therefore a representation of the fragility of our insulation from the ‘wild’, the unpredictability and ‘chaos’ of ‘nature’. This art project, a work in progress, explores specific perceptions and limits of tolerance and ‘animal infringement’ in the city of Lancaster, building a picture of local human behaviour towards animals and the environment – of tolerance and intolerance, of fear and loathing, affection, conflict, pathos and admiration. What’s conspicuously at play is a continual conflict over territory.

During our research we’ve observed ambivalence and contradictory vested interests in relation to a wide range of creatures. We have been working closely with the Pest Control Department, a division of the Council Environmental Agency in addition to individuals whose relationships to specific animals are indicative of considerable and sustained focus. Most significant is the mixture of responses, the paradoxical nature of human attitudes towards agents of ‘the wild’‚ and the implicit cohesion-in-tension of the human/nature paradigm. Is this paradoxical intertwining of detached fascination on the one hand and neurotic repulsion on the other, the inevitable architecture of an irredeemable conflict? And in the final analysis, might this irreconcilability hinge on our own ambivalence to the animal within us?



Ron Broglio
Professor of Literature, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
'A Left-handed Primer for Approaching Animal Art'

Several unique concepts arise from artists' engagement with animals and from audiences' and critics' encounters with such art. This oblique primer will introduce and explore select concepts including surface, animal phenomenology, cross-species contact zones, and fragility—concepts developed specifically around work by artists in the Animal Gaze exhibition.

Animals are said to live on the surface. What is meant by this phrase throughout centuries to our present day is that animals do not have the depths and privileged interiority found in humans. We distinguish our selves from animals by our high degree of self-consciousness and ability for recursive thinking. A range of contemporary animal art allows us to imagine an inversion and twisting free from such privileging of human interiority. By inversion, art poses the question of how animal surfaces are productive and how such production differs from reason and meaning located in privileged human interiority. While traditionally surfaces are less constructive than depths, a recent re-valuation of surface in art and philosophy has re-invigorated the site of animal surfaces. Secondly, through such difference in surface and depth comes a twisting free in which artists ask what unknown interiorities and depths manifest themselves on the surface of the animal body. In other words, what is an animal phenomenology and how could we ever approach it? A friction and productive site opens where the human world bumps up against the opaque and tenacious world of animals. In this contact zone, animals mark and re-mark upon our imposition into their worlds. As artists enter into such a space and develop a cross-species pidgin language, they help us to think not of our sovereignty but of human fragility as a mode of engagement with animals.


Matthew Fuller
David Gee Reader in Digital Media, Goldsmiths
'Art for Animals'

Art for animals intends to address the ecology of capacities for perceptions, sensation, thought and reflexivity of animals. In cultural theory, the capacity for art is part of the rather mobile boundary line that performs the task of annihilating the animal in human and in demarcating the human from animality. The purpose of this paper is not so much to legislate upon the placing of this line, but rather to suggest that the sensual and cultural capacities of various kinds of being, whether ordered into species or not can be explored and to follow a few ways in which this has been done by a number of artists working in various ecological and technical settings. Some of this work is rightfully absurdist, whimsical, self-trivialising. But all of it moves towards setting up actual, multi-scalar and imaginal relations with animals that involve a testing of shared and distinct capacities of reflexive perception.
 

Matthew Poole
Programme Director, Centre for Curatorial Studies, University of Essex
'Conditions of Solidarity and Justice - Does the conceiving of ethics separate humans from other animals?
'

Traditionally, ethics is conceived of as the representation and projection of collective beliefs and ideals. It is believed that the ability to ask the question of 'what we ought to do' both defines and binds us as human beings and differentiates us from other animals. However, a key problem for ethics in general, considered as a priori directives, is that the future or consideration of it is only ever imaginary. Proposing that the future is not a material context from which to rigorously make judgements, and thus not a place where justice can exist or be proposed, this paper will consider the hard-materialism of a neo-pragmatist conception of ethics, that rejects a priori ethical demands to explore whether solidarity and justice and such concepts that define 'humanity' are actually detrimental to our co-existence with other animals.


Rikke Hansen
Researcher at Tate Britain
'Animal Skins in Contemporary Art'

Recent accessibility to biotechnology has given rise to ‘bio art’, an art form which operates within the process of life itself on a genetic or transgenic level. Works include Eduardo Kac’s GFP Bunny, 2000, a genetically modified fluorescent rabbit, and Marta de Menezes manipulated butterflies, 1999. Simultaneously, artists have begun to use dead animals in their work, with duo Snaebjornsdottir/Wilson tracing the cultural afterlife of stuffed polar bears (Nanoq, 2004), and Andrea Roe creating automata from animal skin and motors (e.g. Seagull, 2004). These trends: ‘animal life’ and ‘animal death’ at first seem diametrically opposed; however, this paper argues that they cannot be separated. Together, they represent a preoccupation with the appearance of animals in contemporary society. Where bio art seemingly moves ‘beyond the surface’ to manipulate life, it also collapses the surface-depth distinction by working within the realm of appearances, i.e. it is the skin of Kac’s rabbit which glows and the wing colouration of de Menezes’ butterflies that has been altered. The use of taxidermy in art similarly investigates appearances, with skin being a metaphor for the separation of human and non-human animals. Writing about objects rather than animals, Didier Anzieu suggests that there is something pathological about the projection of skin onto non-human entities, about the need to reify those skins. It is a projection that stands, for him, as testament to the unfinished formation of human subjects who, in order to confirm the coherency of their subjecthood, must continually reaffirm their own skin-borders. This paper examines the animalisation of the skin-border, with skin - the use of skin, the showing of non-human animal skin - playing a vital role in the complex interrelation of zoe, ‘natural life’, and bios, ‘political life’, and addresses, more specifically, how these issues have been taken up by contemporary artists.



Emily Brady
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Edinburgh
‘Animals in Environmental, Land and Eco-Art’

Earth, wood, stone, water, plants, light and other organic and inorganic natural matter and processes have provided the material for works falling into the amorphous range of contemporary art forms described as land, environmental, land and ecological art. Insects and other tiny non-human creatures have often played some role in these works, either intentionally or only incidentally. Larger non-human creatures – amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals – have played a much smaller role. In this presentation, I outline the different ways animals (broadly understood) have featured in these art forms and what sorts of human-nonhuman relationships these interventions with nature express or embody. Given these relationships, I critically explore just how we might square such interventions with attitudes of care and respect for nature. Introducing animals into artistic practice brings with it a set of worries and tensions. Alongside encouraging engagement and intimacy with creatures other than ourselves, problems of aestheticizing, sentimentalizing, trivializing, manipulating and just plain ‘interfering’ trouble our artistic interactions with animals. How do artistic expressions and interests regard and show regard for animals? These questions are addressed through a range of artists and works, including art and ecological restoration/species reclamation; trans-species art; activist/performance art in environments; and art in wildlife conservation.



Dario Martinelli
Associate Professor, University of Helsinki
'3 Steps Towards Art'
Semiotically Investigating Animal Aesthetics


The aim of this paper is to propose a theoretical model for analysing the question of aesthetic behaviour in animals (including humans). The hypothesis is that aesthetics can be explained starting from the development of lying and playing abilities. In other words, is there any kind of continuum among these three aspects?

Possible answers to such questions concern the perceptive dimension (i.e., the role of the receiver of the fictional/playful/aesthetic message) and the articulation of the message (i.e., the role of the sender of the fictional/playful/aesthetic message). In particular, this latter demands explanation in terms of the messages’ interaction (are there fictional/playful components in aesthetics? Are there fictional/aesthetic components in playing? etc.), and their reciprocal necessity (can aesthetics transcend playful/fictional components? Can lying transcend playful/aesthetic components? etc.).

The analysis departs from the concepts of lying, playing and aesthetics, and finally illustrates the suggested connection according to a Peircean framework (with a special emphasis on the concepts of firstness, secondness and thirdness).


Giovanni Aloi
Lecturer in History of Art and Media Studies at Queen Mary, University of London and the Open University; Editor of Antennae, the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture
'The Death of the Animal'

Do works of art involving the killing of animals speak about animality or more about the artist who stages the killing? Where do we draw a line? In 2006, the seminal book 'Killing Animals', written by 'The Animal Studies Group', explored the ways in which societies past and present manage the concept of animal killings in various cultural arenas. In the essay, 'Animal Death in Contemporary Art' Steve Baker poses a key question: "Can contemporary art productively address the killing of animals?" 'The Death of the Animal' focuses on contemporary art practice involving the killing of animals in the exhibiting space in order to answer, at least in part, Steve Baker's original question.

Clive Adams
Director & Curator, Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World
‘Fat Cats and Poodles – Projecting on the Natural World'

Our sentiments towards animals have been frequently focussed by the arts, from Later Palaeolithic cave paintings, medieval 'bestiaries', Old Testament stories and the origins of the 'pastoral' tradition, the allegories of Aesop and Orwell, to the teachings of Descartes, Darwin and Dawkins.

This paper explores the tendency in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for human thought to project upon the natural world - particularly animals - values derived from human society and then to serve them up as a reinforcement of human order; how the distinction of man from the beasts helped to justify the subjugation of other races, women, and the poor. The re-emergence of animal analogies can then be traced in the urban 'jungles' of the 1970s; how the market used lions, tigers and eagles to glorify the 'natural' qualities of speed, power and competition. Clive will conclude by talking about animal imagery in the work of Franz Marc and Constantin Brancusi, live animals in the performance and installation work of Beuys and Kounellis, dead animals in the work of Hirst, and technologies which help us to envision new feelings and connections within our own and other species.


Dr Hilda Kean
Tutor in History and Acting Dean, Ruskin College, University of Oxford
'Recent Animal Memorials'

Recent public sculptures of ‘real’ animals in London have been naturalistic presentations. The aim in the examples of Sam and Humphrey, two cat statues located in or near Queen’s Square, is to remember a recently dead human. The sculptures of Hodge, Dr Johnson’s Cat, or the unnamed pet cat of Dr Salter’s daughter by the river in Rotherhithe are intended to create new interest in important figures from an earlier age. The form of a cat depicted on their own suggests the importance of the animal, however, the absent human is present in different ways. This suggests that rather than the statues being sculptures which value the cultural role of these cats in fact they have become representations of humans.

This particular problem is found most sharply in the new memorial to animals in war in Park Lane, London. While humans are totally absent and many different types of animals are depicted, representing different roles throughout at least the last century, the very form of the memorial suggests that this is a pastiche of a First World War memorial to the fallen – human – dead.


Program Schedule (downloadable pdf here)

DAY 1 - Thursday, 20th November

9.00 - 9.30 Registration

9.35 Introduction by Rosemarie McGoldrick

9.40 - 11.00 Session 1 Chair & Discussant: Bob and Roberta Smith

Steve Baker
Emeritus Professor of Art History, University of Central Lancashire
Keynote address: Self-portrait with human, or: What might Derrida's 'being-huddled-together' look like?

Rikke Hansen
Researcher at Tate Britain
Presentation: Animal Skins in Contemporary Art

11.00 - 11.30 Coffee

11.30 - 12.45 Session 2 Chair & Discussant: Roz Mortimer

Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson
Artist Collaboration
Presentation: Pests, Pets and Prey – Uncertainty in the City

Clive Adams
Director, Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World, Exeter
Presentation: Fat Cats and Poodles – Projecting on the Natural World

12.45 Buffet Lunch

14.00 - 15.30 Session 3 Chair & Discussant: Ben Cain

Ron Broglio
Professor of Literature, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Presentation: A Left-handed Primer for Approaching Animal Art

Jo Longhurst
Artist
Presentation: What a dog might tell us: on looking and being looked at

15.30 - 16:00 Tea

16:00 to 17:30 Session 4 Chair & Discussant: Nico de Oliveira

Matthew Poole
Programme Director, Centre for Curatorial Studies, University of Essex
Presentation: Conditions of Solidarity and Justice - Does the conceiving of ethics separate humans from other animals?

Dr Hilda Kean
Tutor in History and Acting Dean, Ruskin College, Oxford
Presentation: Recent Animal Memorials

18:00 PRIVATE VIEW of The Animal Gaze show at Unit 2 & Unit 6

DAY 1 - Friday, 21st November

9.00 – 9.30 convene

9.35 - 11.00 Session 5 Chair & Discussant: Professor Kate Soper

David Wood
Centennial Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, USA
Presentation: Mirror Infractions in the Yucatan - why should flies be without art?

Emily Brady
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Edinburgh
Presentation: Animals in Environmental, Land and Eco-art

11.00-11.30 Coffee

11.30 – 13.00 Session 6 Chair & Discussant: Suky Best

Matthew Fuller
David Gee Reader in Digital Media, Goldsmiths
Presentation: Art for Animals

Marcus Coates
Artist
The artist in conversation with Ron Broglio

13.00-14.00 Buffet Lunch

14.00 - 15.30 Session 7 Chair & Discussant: Dr Paul Cobley

Giovanni Aloi
Lecturer in History of Art and Media Studies at Queen Mary, University of London and the Open University; Editor of Antennae, the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture.
Presentation: The Death of the Animal

Dario Martinelli
Docent of Semiotics and Musicology, Helsinki
Video Presentation: 3 Steps Towards Art: Semiotically Investigating Animal Aesthetics

15.30 - 16:00 Tea

16:00 - 17:00 Session 8 Chair & Convenor: Rosemarie McGoldrick

An hour’s session devoted to delegate participation. Delegates were invited to pose general questions arising out of the symposium’s proceedings.

17:00 Professor Kate Soper
Institute for the Study of European Transformations, London Metropolitan University
Conclusion and thanks