To kick off this year, we decied to lay off the dark a bit. There is plenty to be found elsewhere, still. A bright, simple, joyful and lovable theme as a selfish gift to ourselves and a soothing one to you. How to approach this theme, though, without sounding painfully unaware or wilfully ignorant as humankind, to borrow the words of Timothy Morton, has become a geophysical force on a planetary scale?
Since the dawn of human time, we have imposed qualities and virtues on non-human animals they never asked for, domesticated or not. Fox the trickster, snake the seducer, dove the peacebringer. This influenced immense volumes of mythology, folklore, early rituals and religious backstories, snuck its way into our daily sayings, and cooked up quite the few spicy (albeit unfounded) insults.
Not to beat arouns the bush for too long, this is your reminder: we are all in this together, alongside coral reefs, bacteria, ponds, sea lions or Harris’ hawks. There isn’t ‘our’ world and ‘their’ world – there is only permeation. We can and should get inspired by non-human animals without forcing them into servitude, both physical and ideological. Let’s practice kinship. Let’s cultivate humility. Let’s make space. And thus, in this theme, we shall admire from afar.
We will immerse you in the calming comfort of wearable plush toys, seek out witches and their familiars and flood you with unholy quantities of animal prints. You will meet the Hounds of Love, the true paragons of virtue, partake in animistic latex rituals or brave paintings of feral dogs.
You will witness family portraits of fluffly humans, fantasy creatures jumping out of couture, strange attractors in action in flight patterns. Colour, excitement, sustainability, instincts, a logic of coexistence, worship, playfulness, awe. Let nice things wash over you.
We as happy as dogs sniffing each other’s butts in the park.
ANIMATOR BIO / Roberta Curcă (b.1991, Craiova, Romania) is a Bucharest-based artist working with drawing, photography, objects, and artist books. Throughout her dynamic body of work, she employs a systematic investigation into various types of structures or images that describe or subvert the human’s relationship to the built or natural world. She often explores the relationship between two-dimensional and three-dimensional states, order and chance, intent and impact, the human and the non-human. She has a BA and an MA in Drawing from the National University of Arts in Bucharest and is currently working on a Ph.D. in cultural studies at the Center for Excellency in Image Study also in Bucharest.
FOR YOUR READING AND EDUCATIONAL PLEASURE
Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies by Margo Demello
Feather Fashions and Bird Preservation: A Study in Nature Protectionby Robin W. Doughty
Dark Ecology by Timothy Morton
Fashion Animals by Joshua Katcher
The Handbook of Contemporary Animism by Graham Harvey
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Vall Kimmerer
Beasts of Burden, a comics series by Evan Dorkin
Wilder Mann: The Image of the Savage by Charles Fréger
The Ritual Animal: Imitation and Cohesion in the Evolution of Social Complexity, Harvey Whitehouse
Animals and Modern Cultures: A Sociology of Human-Animal Relations in Modernity by Alex Franklin
The Stranger (Animorphs) by K. A. Applegate
Animals, Gods and Humans / Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Thought By Ingvild Saelid Gilhus
Beyond Boundaries: Humans and Animals by Barbara Noske
How Animals Affect Us: Examining the Influence of Human-Animal Interaction on Child Development and Human Health Hardcover by Peggy McCardle (Editor), James A. Griffin PhD (Editor), Valerie Maholmes (Editor), Dr. Sandra McCune (Editor)
Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies, second edition by Margo DeMello
The Moral Lives of Animals by Dale Peterson
Animals and Society, The Humanity of Animal Rights By Keith Tester
Primate Visions / Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science By Donna J. Haraway
Relational Psychophysics in Humans and Animals / A Comparative-Developmental Approach By Viktor Sarris
Animals in Person, Cultural Perspectives on Human-Animal Intimacies Edited By John Knight
A Celebration of Demons By Bruce Kapferer