A Left-handed Primer for Approaching Animal Art

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

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. 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 ourselves from animals by our high degree of self-consciousness and capacity 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. Second, 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 frictional 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Visual Art Practice
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Fingerprint

Animals
Art
Interiority
Artist
Inversion
Contact Zone
Phenomenology
Modes of Engagement
Pidgin Languages
Self-consciousness
Imposition
Human World
Sovereignty
Open Site
Opaque
Philosophy

Keywords

  • Animal
  • Art
  • Coates
  • Idiocy
  • Skin
  • Snaebjornsdottir/Wilson
  • Surface
  • Umwelt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

Cite this

A Left-handed Primer for Approaching Animal Art. / Broglio, Ronald.

In: Journal of Visual Art Practice, Vol. 9, No. 1, 01.01.2010, p. 35-45.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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