Art of Research Conference 2023 (exhibition and presentation)

Conference Presentation


Bartram, A. 2023. Art of Research Conference 2023 (exhibition and presentation). Art of Research 2023.
AuthorsBartram, A.
TypeConference Presentation
Abstract

Unexpected, hidden, unspoken and sometimes uncomfortable aspects of our rational and well-meaning value structure often arise through the mediation of contemporary art through its associated dissemination. Ethics, morality and what is right and wrong are often the subject of extended debate through the opportunity that artistic research provides, in which the use and engagement of non-human animals in art arouses specific contested and unexpected ground. Art and artistic research have the capacity to raise questions and highlight phenomena that often stays hidden and unnoticed, including the debate of ethical consideration of, and to animals in art. In more recent historical contributions, artists like Damian Hirst, Oran Catts, David Shrigley and Hermann Nitsch have provocated the unethical for the animal through its (ab)use, slaughter and genetic modification for artistic spectacle and purpose. Could (and indeed, should) the use of animals for artistic statement through ritualized slaughter, taxidermy, and scientific manipulation, be made now without questions of the social ethics in art being brought to prominence? How do we regard animal suffering in comparison to that of the human, especially in art, and what is 'othering' between species? Could we apply the same measures to ourselves as we do to other living creatures? Should empathy be a prerequisite for working with any bodily subject, living or dead, and human or animal?
This explorative illustrated presentation analyses how some humans are revisioning their role within interspecies artistic research towards a more ethical purpose. It deals with the questions and practices concerning the treatment of other living beings as offered through contemporary artistic research as set against the precedent of artists such as Hirst, Catts, Shrigley, and Nitsch, and how conditions and circumstances are changing for animals in art, in both subject and context, through an ethical agenda. The presenters will analyze this through the perspective of their own individual artistic research, discussing the ethics of working with non-human animals in art through the effects of life and death, of empathy and sacrifice that provoke the unexpected. Both artists’ aim to agitate a re-questioning of the non-human within a creative context though an empathetic application of ethics: Jaana Erkkilä-Hill asks the animals about death in her work, of their own and its limited lifespan, which is often imposed through human will; Angela Bartram presents the opportunity for non-human animals to contribute as equals with humans in her artwork, in reading animal theory to her non-human companions, and how perceptions of the animal other are modified when asked to be- like-your dog through empathetic interaction in a gallery. Through the discussion they propose what a revisioning of ethics might, and could be in a critical contemporary artistic research context, through an antithetical positioning against a historical paradigm of slaughter, taxidermy, and observation in artworks, which situates the animal as secondary to the human. This will include the impact of bringing animals into the research as collaborators in the gallery and a questioning of the rights of humans to observe the animal as image (including of their death). Their individual artistic research is a significant development for the animal in terms of thinking, regard, and importance, moving towards being active and meaningful as both subject and contributor, as a revisioning of positive ethics, which we will discuss within a critical context through the discussion.

The presentation was selected as one of seventy in the programme, from a submission of one hundred and seventy, through a process of peer review.

The authors made a new collaborative artwork, On Living and Dying, specifically for the exhibition, to act as a continuing and supporting dialogue to this talk. This artwork was also selected by peer review. The exhibition was on site at Dipoli Gallery, Aalto University.

The conference and exhibition were at Aalto University, 30 November-1 December 2023.

Keywordsethics; art and ethics; animal ethics; ethics in art
Year2023
ConferenceArt of Research 2023
Web address (URL)https://www.aalto.fi/en/events/art-of-research-2023-conference
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File Access Level
Open
FunderUniversity of Derby
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All rights reserved
File Access Level
Open
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Dec 2023
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/q379z/art-of-research-conference-2023-exhibition-and-presentation

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