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Animals and Artists

An Exploration of Impossible Encounters

A discussion of modern and contemporary artworks that challenge traditional representations of nonhuman animals and expose human viewers to animal otherness.

This book argues that the individuated and discrete human self in possession of consciousness, rationality, empathy, a voice, and a face, is open to challenge by nonhuman capacities such as distributed cognition, gender ambiguity, metamorphosis, mimicry, and avian speech. In traditional philosophy, animals represent all that is lacking in humankind. However, Animals and Artists argues that just because humans frame “the animal” as a negative term does not mean that animals have no meaning in themselves. Rather animals, in their very unknowability, mark the limits of human thinking.

By combining art analysis with poststructuralist, posthumanist, and animal studies theories, Atkinson decenters the human and establishes a new position that embraces difference. Amid our current ecological crisis, Animals and Artists brings readers into solidarity with animal species, among them spiders, silkworms, bees, parrots, and octopuses. The book raises empathy for other life forms, drawing attention to the shared vulnerabilities of human and nonhuman animals, and in so doing underlines the power of art to bring about social change.

212 pages | 42 halftones | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2

Art: Art--General Studies

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
Chapter 1. Octopus Reality: A Space Threatening Fragmentation
Interlude: Encountering Radical Otherness
Chapter 2. The Dangerous Alliance of Women and Insects
Interlude: Unravelling the Secretions of the Silk/worm
Chapter 3. Spiders and Tomás Saraceno: Interfacing Nature and Culture
Through Art and Science
Interlude: Hospitality for an Other
Chapter 4. Deconstructing Logocentrism: Parrot Echoes

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