Collaborative animals: dogs and humans as co-working artists

Bartram, Angela (2017) Collaborative animals: dogs and humans as co-working artists. In: Living with Animals 3: Co-existence/Seeing with Animals conference, 22 - 26 March 2017, Eastern Kentucky University, USA.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
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Abstract

How might we consider the non-human animal as equal in a political climate whereby they are eaten, enslaved and exploited? What are the rights and agencies that are afforded when striving for such an act, specifically in a creative sense, and how might we negotiate these animal and human subjectivities through collaborative performance?

This paper analyses the relationship that positions animal bodies as hierarchically other, by offering understanding of differing perspectives. Using my project ‘Be Your Dog’ (KARST, Plymouth, UK, 2016) as a point of analysis, I will discuss how the normative rules of socialization can be dissolved through a sensing and watchful knowledge of the familiar body, and how this informs an understanding of the propositional and positional dynamics between, and of inter-species cohabitees. In this art project the potential of ‘inter-’ in regard to positionality and subjectivity was encouraged and allowed to flourish through collaborative engagement.

‘Be Your Dog’ explored the hinterlands, the grey zones and meeting grounds of the bodies, positions and sensibilities of a group of dogs and their humans. The aim was not to confuse species or provoke a sense of one not being true to the animal or human, but attempted to offer a space where the ‘breathing rights’ and corporeal and cognate attributes of the other become acknowledged through direct experience. The dog was not anthropomorphized at a loss to its’ animal-ness, or the human animalized to the point of redundant human-ness, but the project acknowledged equality despite of difference through a disrespect of animal ‘pet’ hierarchies. This saw a hybrid of sorts emerge through the collaborative act, a fused singular entity made of distinct dog and human parts. Joined by action and tension, these networking bodies became connected and responsive within their bonded pairs and larger pack.

The paper will interrogate how this activity sits in relation to anthropomorphism and animality, and what the consequences are for each participant drawing on theories of ‘becoming animal’ though Deleuze and Guittari, Derrida and Berger, It will discuss the rights and subjectivities of human and animal and how equality of species fits into, and potentially contributes to a new perspective in the economy of animal politics. It will address the contributions of each species and how this used and produced equality, and how and if this brings consequences for domestic animal relationships.

Keywords:art and animals, bartram, dogs, animal ethics
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Fine Arts)
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ID Code:27794
Deposited On:04 Jul 2017 10:12

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