570 Life sciences
700 ARTS & RECREATION (collections, philosophy & education)
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AbstractThis paper explores prevailing ideas about ‘the wild’ through an examination of human relationships with animals in relation to an art project entitled ‘seal’ produced by Snaebjornsdottir/Wilson. ‘seal’ is a recent visual art project (currently a work in progress) that explores human relationships to the seal, an animal widely appropriated in Western culture for a variety of human representations, and emotional and political ends. For the purpose of the project the artists (Snæbjörnsdóttir/ Wilson) have focused on the animal in a specific geographical context, one that offers access to a multiplicity of human attitudes towards the animal. The project aims to draw attention to those attitudes in an attempt to separate the ‘represented’ animal from the ‘living’ animal. Through its site–specificity, the project also explores cultural territories and the shaping of ‘belonging’ and nationhood. The research for this project has included a series of interviews with people who have had some contact with the seal through observation, caring, and hunting and we have filmed various activities involved in the preparation and aftermath of a hunt. The final stage of this research (planned for the autumn 2008) is a film involving the process of taxidermy – the making of a stuffed seal. The project is part of a practice-based PhD submission (scheduled for Spring 2009) in the Faculty of Fine Art at Gothenburg University, Sweden. We propose that what we refer to today as ‘animal’ is a complex and evolving construction, which humans use to project and carry ideas and desires concerning nature and wilderness. Obsession with controlling and dominating ‘nature’ and its representation, through various forms of confinement, from zoos to natural history collections to wild-life photography and film, has arguably culminated in the ‘killing’ of the term ‘animal’ and ultimately resulted in an ‘eclipse’ of the ‘real/living’ animal (Lippit 2000). In pursuance of the argument, the paper explores the visual art methodology employed in the project and its relationship to relevant contemporary and historical writings.
TypeConference or Workshop Item
Snaebjornsdottir, Bryndis and Wilson, Mark (2009) Glazing the Gaze: a human animal encounter. In: Minding Animals, 13th - 18th July 2009, Newcastle University.