ANIMALADIES Conference exhibition Artist Call Out


Conference Exhibition +
Postcard Size Art Project

Call for Artists

EOI Submissions by NOV 20, 2015:

Conference: Animaladies, convened by the Human Animal Research Network (HARN), University of Sydney, July 11 & 12, 2016.
Interlude Gallery, Glebe
Exhibition curators: Yvette Watt, Melissa Boyde and Madeleine Boyd.

Expressions of interest are invited from artists to submit work that fits with the Animaladies conference themes. Focus concepts include: hybridity of human/animal becomings; crazy animal love; gender and ethics of care; lunatic fringe and liminal animal ethics. Conference information and CFP are included below for further inspiration.

The conference art project will include 1) Postcard Size Art Project and 2) a small Curated Exhibition of original photographic, video, sculptural , installation, painting, or performance art. Each artist can apply for either or both.

Please indicate if your EOI application is for:
Art Postcard Project (y/n):         Curated Exhibition (y/n):

Please share this exhibition EOI with your artist’s networks.

Postcard Size Art Project

The intention is to create an inclusive network of communicative narratives around the Animaladies conference themes between local to global artists.

Postcard originals will have a size limit but there will be no restriction on medium. All postcard originals will be exhibited as part of the Animaladies conference exhibition and also available for sale. A limited edition set of selected postcard reproductions will be available for sale. Any profits on sales will be shared between the artist (70%) and the Australasian Animal Studies Association (30%).

EOI for the Art Postcard Project must be received by email no later than 5pm Friday November 20. We will then advise the dimensions and any further information regarding the postcard project.

EOI should include: Name, contact details, artist’s bio 500 words or less, and artist’s website link.

Curated Exhibition

EOI must be received by email no later than 5pm Friday November 20, and should include:

  • a one page CV/bio – please include your contact details (email & phone number)
  • a powerpoint file or PDF showing 5 – 10 labelled examples of your work. Total file size should be no more than 10mb.
  • An artist’s statement of no more than 1000 words
  • Details of work to be exhibited or performance concept including subject matter, medium, approximate dimensions. These may be pre-existing or proposed works. If pre-existing please ensure they are included in your powerpoint/PDF.
  • Any specific technical requirements.

There is a very limited exhibition budget and we will have limited space so please keep this in mind when proposing artwork/s for exhibition. Please also consider being available onsite to help install works that have special requirements.


Animaladies Conference CFP


July 11 & 12, 2016, University of Sydney.


Keynote: Lori Gruen, Professor of Philosophy, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University

From ‘crazy cat ladies’ to ‘deranged’ animal advocates occupying a ‘lunatic fringe’ (Wolfe, 5), the spectre of the ‘crazy’ label is never too far from the ‘question of the animal’. The cultural connections between madness, species, race and gender are plentiful, stereotypical and persistent, highlighting similar trajectories and patterns of marginalisation. Their intersection also requires careful contextual analysis and framing. This symposium at the University of Sydney will focus on the role of madness, reframed in terms of species, race and gender as ‘animaladies’. It will examine how animaladies come in different forms of ‘crazy love’ (D B Rose, 2013); passions, attentiveness and empathy that are sometimes also experienced alongside social marginalisation by animal advocates, animal carers and animal studies scholars. The ‘crazy love’ of the animal advocate can reveal forms of courageous wisdom, persistence in the face of impossibilities and improbabilities. Seen in this light, animaladies can unhinge prevailing norms concerning human animal relationships, particularly those based around indifference towards animal misery…

For the full conference Call for Papers, please go to:

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Haraway: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene

New Materialism in Contemporary Art

vol6-cover-724x1024Image by Owain Jones, “Crossing the Severn Bridge, c. 1980.

“There is no question that anthropogenic processes have had planetary effects, in inter/intraaction with other processes and species, for as long as our species can be identified (a few tens of thousand years); and agriculture has been huge (a few thousand years). Of course, from the start the greatest planetary terraformers (and reformers) of all have been and still are bacteria and their kin, also in inter/intra-action of myriad kinds (including with people and their practices, technological and otherwise).1 The spread of seed-dispersing plants millions of years before human agriculture was a planet-changing development, and so were many other revolutionary evolutionary ecological developmental historical events.” p 159 

Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159-165

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin
Donna Haraway
History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA

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James Serpell : In the Company of Animals

Serpell gives a broad and on many points thorough discussion of the cultural, evolutionary, physiological and religious influences on human relations with non-human animals. The focus of his thesis is on the phenomena of pet-keeping, but also delves into the concepts behind livestock keeping as well as attitudes towards wild species. The tone of the book is sober and plain-spoken, driven by a scientific and anthropological epistemology based in secondary research. Philosophy per se does not drive the discussion, rather realism and factual information are brought to bear on what Serpell clearly considers to be the problem of animal welfare. Through his discussion, Serpell addresses many conundrums addressing a sometimes kind and often violent attitude towards other species across human cultures and time-periods. For example, the crux of the book is varying attitudes towards pets as a genuine meeting of species in a relationship of care, and the benefits of pet-keeping for human well being, compared with the attitude that pet-keeping lowers human moral standards and that humans (and animals) can be treated ‘like animals’ in a hierarchy of moral worthiness.
Serpell’s investigation of ancient culture and cultural rituals regarding animals provides stimulating evidence for current welfare debates and philosophical thinking. His analysis suggests that humans have an evolutionary ability to empathise between subjects, and this includes other species. In part this has developed because hunters must intimately know their prey. Yet empathy includes feeling another’s pain, and so Serpell suggests that human cultural evolution changed significantly when awareness of concepts of self and other, as well as meaning in life and death emerged in prehistoric times (ca20,000BC). Regarding the necessary killing of animals for survival, rituals developed as means to cope with empathic concerns for the other. This included strict and particular means of killing and using of the bodies. Serpell therefore concludes it is paradoxically the human ability to empathise with animals that has caused humans to develop cultural structures supporting the use (and abuse) of animals on such large scales as we see in 2015. This is manifest as the current separation of roles in the food chain for raising livestock, killing and butchering and all of these from purchase and consumption of a packaged and re-framed product. In Western cultures this process is couched in a complex Judeo-Christian moral framework of species hierarchy and the dominion of ‘Man’. Once again, this attitude of dominion of ‘Man’ followed a historical pathway in thought from ancient animistic polytheism, through the rise of reason as a value, through to the emergence of a ‘man as the image of a single god’ theory, along with a bias towards the so called betterment of ‘human’ moral values. Today, beyond Serpell’s account, and as religiosity declines along with an increase in scientific evidence of non-human animal sentience, a return to ‘original empathy’ might be occurring (or have the opportunity to occur).
Interestingly within this discussion, it can be considered that the growing human awareness of death as meaningful brought about religion and culture, including those rituals concerning death of other species. Serpell points to the archeological evidence of ritual burial for humans and ritual arrangement of animal bones to be dated around similar times.
Screen shot 2015-02-12 at 12.15.28 PM

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Picasso’s Animals

Currently reading this clever little collection. Weaving anecdotes of Picasso’s many animal companions with their strong influence on the imagery he produced in his artwork. Delightfully nonlinear and nonhuman. While Picasso was not necessarily the most ethical in his relations with other species, as with his many relationships with women, acquiring and leaving them at will, he certainly had a passion for them. Intriguing insight to the incursions of animal companions into a celebrated art practice.






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The Skullbone Experiment with Janet Laurence

Last Friday The Skullbone Experiment opened at COFA (college of fine arts). Janet Laurence with a small group of established Australian artists and poets spent 5 days in the remote Skullbone Plains conservation area of Tasmania so as to engage with this environment through their practice. The initiative was inspired by ” Conservationist and philanthropist Rob Purves [who] wanted to inspire Australian artists to make work about Tasmania’s endangered environment.”
Janet Laurence’s installation included samples of flora from the region sewn into hanging veil arrangements. The series of small sculptures of fictional hybrid fungi inserted into the moss and grasses of the plains by Vera Muller were enchanting. These seemed effective at drawing attention to and adding a miniature signpost for viewers to explore wild ecologies.

The link to the ABC station story and radio interview is this:
Image Vera Muller Blacktipped Goldinger (2013)

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Response to Graham Harman 2013 OOO or Agential Realism

– Madeleine Boyd

Harman suggests in his 2013 explication of Object Orientated Ontology (European Graduate School lecture), two possible critiques of relational and science-based ontologies in philosophy, which therefore could be considered critiques of Barad’s Agential Realism. Harman makes specific reference to Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory relational concepts, but the commentary applies to the broader field as well. The issue at stake here is the stability of objects and whether it is viable to contemplate that objects change as their relational embeddedness changes. Harman claims that objects have stable qualities that relate, but do not eternally emerge in-relation-to. Agential Realism, and new materialism of the non-OOO streams are heavily invested in emergent models of ontology. Johns-Putra (2013; p128) neatly summarises the difference as, “the difference between Barad’s and Morton’s formulations of agency and ontology is a matter of emphasis: Morton is interested in objects in motion; Barad is concerned with objects in motion.” Johns-Putra is referring to Tim Morton, colleague of Harman in OOO. On the second point of contention, Harman seems to relegate science-based ontologies in philosophy to a minor sub-sector of thought, which although attempting to get at the universe using measurements, fall into the same dilemmas of all philosophy and lack the rigour of analytic philosophy. At times he does seem to suggest that mathematics is the only real empirical reference of value to philosophy, outside of analytic traditions.

The frequencies at which Harman’s OOO, new materialism and Agential Realism do all resonate in time are the central contentions that the non-human has independent and significant valence in ontology, regardless of human presence, consideration or intervention; also importantly, that the materiality, or matter, of existence is of primary importance to philosophical consideration, rather than the spiritual, constructed or merely perceptual, for example. Differing views on the ways in which matter relates, touches, and comes into being is how the various material philosophies diverge. Harman suggests that he agrees with the ‘finitude of Kant’, but he asserts that new frontiers have opened up as we consider object-to-object relations, rather than the limits of philosophy being human-human or human-object. Important topics that emerge in these new materialist debates seem to be: how do objects touch?; the stability of objects as extant entities; and in which ways are objects able to be encountered by other objects or forces or entities, and the results of these encounters.

It is contented here that the relegation of important new observations in quantum physics to a sub-sector of philosophy is an incongruent starting point. If the matters at stake concern matter, then the only recently observed behaviour of sub-atomic particles surely has more to say about the processes of existence, than, say the musings of a wine critic about the affective qualities of a particular vintage (as Harman makes so much of). While the manner in which Barad has extended some of her insights to the eco-social sphere might be open to debate, the core subject of physics should be of primary interest to any materialist philosopher. Harman’s metaphors on magnets as descriptors of how objects relate could by contrast be considered nothing more than fanciful, for where is this shown to be true, other than in his own circular tautologies? It is therefore evident that Harman, much more than Barad, has fallen into the same old traps of philosophy. Barad, by contrast, has opened up entirely fresh frontiers in providing a non-mystical, yet still virtual (full of potential), basis for discussing matter.

As to whether objects or entities retain stability, I am sure that Barad is not suggesting that time is ahistorical, or that evolution has not occurred, or that entities such as birds, fish, rocks, and electrons do not exist. A clear statement is made at the outset of her book ‘Meeting the Universe Halfway’, that the new materialism has risen to remedy the problems of constructivism, which include this idea of non-existence outside of relation. Barad’s Agential Realism is firmly grounded in material reality, and the idea that the non-human universe does exist always already a priori to human encounter. Her work does develop radical ontologies and mechanisms for the workings of existence, but in a way that should be considered pragmatic for application to research projects, such as the temporal relations between species in environmental studies, or the manner in which political movements operate, and perhaps most importantly concerning ways of making new agential cuts in relations between the human and non-human.

Barad, Karen Michelle. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.

European Graduate School. 2013. Graham Harman. Speculative Realism. .

Johns-Putra, Adeline 2013. “Environmental Care Ethics: Notes Toward a New Materialist Critique.” Symploke no. 21 (1-2):125-135.

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Blackbox report: Animal indignities or V is for Vulnerable among other things.

There is one anonymous line of writing in the Blackbox that really stands out to me: “Can vulnerability be a site of resistance?”  The immediate context for this question, its site or location, is in proximity to a photograph (re-printed as a degraded laser copy) of a wild Siberian reindeer caught in a fish net. Deer as fish in net. This arrangement produces its own indignity: the commingling of economic, no less than ethical, regimes. The aquatic and the terrestrial, each with its own rules and familiarities coordinating humans and non-humans.

The picture is a document not of atrocity but a dispassionate rendering of an actuality; a document of an industrialized northern landscape.  So this picture, copied and recopied, it finds itself in a folder in this Blackbox game of inter-actions and ruminations on the Anthropocene.  I put this picture into the box and it has been seen by others and it has acquired marks from at least some of those encounters. The page has been modified by someone, it has been cut through (see gif) so the following page is visible by flipping open a paper window.  This material intervention insists on a personal engagement and a sort of intimacy.  This kind of thing is best experienced in person (either it travels or you do).  It is thus structurally resistant to mass-reproduction.  On the verso of this modified page; on the opposite side from the image of a deer caught in the fish net is the question: “Can vulnerability be a site of resistance?” and “V is for Vulnerable” among other things.
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