Animals and Contemporary Art: Aesthetics of Liberation?

Thursday 18 June, 2015
7:30pm, $0

311 East Broadway

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In an historical US court case, the Nonhuman Rights Project is currently pursuing the personhood of three chimpanzees in the state of New York—Tommy, Hercules, and Leo. In parallel, the last two decades of ethological studies have provided an exponential array of insights into animal intelligence and complex forms of sociality, both in anthro-affinity and as utterly alien to us human animals. This is a revolutionary moment in our coexistence with other animals. In light of this, is it the case that contemporary art has as begun to re-envision its understanding of animals and multi species relations? Or rather, despite the occasional counter-example, do the arts continue to favor considerations of taste over ethics, aesthetic transgression over nonhuman recognition, and subjects-as-material over subjects-as-life? Does the role of animals in art allow for a liberating species co-operation, or does it remain all-too fluidly in line with the imperatives of capital over eco-social justice?

Arnaud Gerspacher, Ph.D candidate in Art History, The Graduate Center, CUNY.
Dominic Pettman, cultural theorist and professor of Culture and Media at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School, NY.

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