Post-Minding Animals conference

Like a turtle paddling in the shallows I observed the sharks manoeuvre in the depths of an ocean made of language and questioned wether I really wanted to enter those depths and why? On the day I was there, speakers from the arts spoke in an intimate theatre. I wondered if there was any tension between the artists and animal activists due to the fine line between animal exploitation that some artists tread. The specialised audience created an expectation for dense theoretical papers, which I had not prepared for, my presentation being for a general audience. Video, photography and installation/performance were the preferred mediums to express animal/human relations by the artists, I was the only painter.

Indigenous culture was not mentioned at all in this session by artists. The animals involved were urban pets and farmed animals. My perspective of becoming animal is unable to disassociate from indigenous culture because it informs my own relationship to animals which are indigenous or feral.

The artists who presented were:

All women.

Steve Baker and Yvette Watt discussed photographs by a woman called Mary Britton Clouse.

A recent exhibition in relation to the theme involving some of the artists Becoming Animal/Becoming Human
The work of Sam Easterson interested me the most due to the natural habitat context the animals were in when making the work.

I had the privilege of meeting associate professor Linda Williams and artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso at the conference.

3 thoughts on “Post-Minding Animals conference

  1. Its interesting that D&G’s “Becoming Animal” chapter from One Thousand Plateaus was cited widely but why did no-one mention becoming intense or the body without organs? I’m out of touch with the animals rights movement, not interested in bio-tech experiments, had no idea that the hip term was non-human animal (!) and was bored outta my skull by the chook lady’s repeated appearance in practically all the presentations. seems to be the opposite of ‘becoming animal’ – more like ‘becoming banal’

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  2. Art and literature were placed in a separate building it is true – to allow local Uni Newcastle and TAFE students to attend at cheaper registration rates, and because there were six concurrent sessions and the main building only had five rooms, also to allow a closer proximity to the art spaces. The room you mentioned also had the best quality acoustics for the more short films that were shown there(and the best seats). Also there were heavy accents as it was an International conference. By the way, indigenous culture was mentioned throughout the week – a shame you could not attend the entire conference Vanessa. Finally there is no tension between the arts academics and artists and other delegates – art formed a major component of the Minding Animals Conference – there would not have been 18 art spaces made available in Newcastle is there was any tension.

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