Symposium: The Animal Gaze Constructed

International symposium and exhibition announced at The Cass for March 2020.

Date: 17 February 2020

The Cass at London Metropolitan University presents The Animal Gaze Constructed (2020) - a conference on contemporary art, architecture and animal-human studies which will take place 6-7 March 2020 at the university's Aldgate campus. The event, organised by Rosemarie McGoldrick. Associate Teaching Professor in Fine Art and follows the success of previous symposia The Animal Gaze (2008) and The Animal Gaze Returned (2011). It will be accompanied by an exhibition of work in the school’s atrium gallery from the 6th-27th March 2020.

About The Animal Gaze Constructed

The aesthetics of animal politics. David Attenborough's cinematography. Speeches at Glastonbury. Instagram activism. From space, the chained night lights of our huge, interconnected cities burn and glow in a gigantic lock-in. Hockey-stick curve in human population growth across two centuries. Biodiversity in flatline. Vast oceanic pollution by plastics, fished-out waters of a scavenged seabed. Oil wars. Colossal gas by-product, trapping heat in the atmosphere to alter the planet's climates. Devastation of forests for fields, in whose acres insects and invertebrates are eliminated. More than 5 kilos of vegetable protein feed forever required for every kilo of meat. Hot land, hot water.

As every other animal looks on, each may sense now in its changed habitat slim pickings, shrinking horizons and poverty of scope. Taxed out, totalised. Narrow or isolated rescue strategies obtain for a lucky few. Reservation, meadow fringe, wildlife corridor, animal sanctuary and shelter - designed arks or roads as redoubts, last resorts along and among the edges of a desert world.

While humanism and bios may have waned to find a less privileged home in the new politics of nature (Latour, 1999), animality and zoë (Braidotti, 2009) have risen in the scales. At the same time, art and architecture have long since expanded their fields, crossed disciplinary borders and made a play for a deeper and wider 'social' than before. In this new relation, how other animals see the human animal and we see them may now guide us in form, content, function and intention.

How might the animal gaze help to re-imagine and represent this shared space?

The keynote speakers at the event will be:

  • Steve Baker, Emeritus Professor at UCLAN who explore what constitutes an adequate approach to the visual representation of animals in art history and the humanities
  • Andrew Patrizio, Professor at the University of Edinburgh, who will discuss the possibilities of an extreme, non-hierarchical politics of animal encounter to guide art writing, interpretation and history
  • Andrew Pickering, Emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter, who will discuss how a posthumanist future could focus on nonhuman animals, and how humans and animals could have symmetric and open-ended interactions; and how this connects to our relations with machines.
  • Peg Rawes, Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL, who will explore animal ontology in the context of the anthropocenic climate emergency.

Eighteen artists will also exhibit their works at the symposium. Full details are available on the Animal Gaze website.

Image: 14. Sad With Wonky Eyes (detail) by Rosemarie McGoldrick

Porcelain sad dog figure with wonky eyes

News details

Symposium 6 and 7 March 2020
Exhibition 6 to 27 March 2020
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