If you are experiencing problems downloading PDF or HTML fulltext, our helpdesk recommend clearing your browser cache and trying again. If you need help in clearing your cache, please click here . Still need help? Email help@ingentaconnect.com

Free Content A Left-handed Primer for Approaching Animal Art

(PDF 1,137.3kb)
Download Article:


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.

Keywords: Coates; Snaebjornsdottir/Wilson; Umwelt; animal; art; idiocy; skin; surface

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jvap.9.1.35_1

Affiliations: Arizona State University.

Publication date: December 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The domain of visual art hosts a multitude of artistic forms and practices. The Journal of Visual Art Practice supports research across the entire range of this varied field. The journal engages with the progressive nature of the subject, reflecting upon the changing terrain of art in recent years.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
Related content



Share Content

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more