Species of Wonder: Human-Animal Relations in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture
My research examines human-animal relations and representations of animals in contemporary art and visual culture. More specifically, my thesis explores the ethical and political potential of wonder in the context of artistic engagements with wildlife, examining how wonder might arise through this work, what forms it takes and where it might lead. Recognising various environmental and ecological threats facing wildlife today, I interrogate the challenges and opportunities wonder presents in this context, together with the ways creative practitioners negotiate these issues through their work.
Contemporary art and human-animal relations, the wunderkammer in contemporary art, museum and exhibition histories, cultures of display in natural history museums, taxidermy, hunting trophies, anthropomorphism and ideas of 'becoming-animal' in contemporary art.
I have been involved in programming events for the Curious Matters seminar series, organising in particular Art, Animals and Ritual (2014) featuring talks by artist Marcus Coates and anthropologist Jerome Lewis, and an artist's talk by Kate MccGwire (2015). In this context I also organised the conference Transgressing Boundaries: On Wolves and Werewolves (2014) with speakers including Andrew Dodds (artist, London), Garry Marvin (Professor of Human-Animal Studies at the University of Roehampton), Caroline Oates (The Folklore Society/The Warburg Institute), Mark Pilkington (Strange Attractor Press) and Carys Crossen (University of Manchester). In 2015, along with Mary Addyman (University of Warwick), I organised the JFIGs funded conference Collecting the Sea: 1500-2015 with papers by artists Jane Wildgoose and Eleanor Morgan and art historians Marion Endt-Jones (University of Manchester) and Pandora Syperek (University College London). In 2013, I provided research and organisational assistance for The Congress for Curious People, a 10-day series of talks and events in London funded by The Wellcome Trust, culminating in a 2-day symposium and online publication. I am on the editorial board of Object, the postgraduate peer-reviewed journal produced by the History of Art department at UCL.
March-June 2015 Strange Creatures: The Art of Unknown Animals The Grant Museum of Zoology Co-curator of an exhibition based around the George Stubbs painting The Kongouroo of New Holland and featuring the work of artist Ruth Marshall.
'Curious', 'Ruinous' and 'Wonderful', Glossary entries, in Petra Lange-Berndt and Dietmar Rübel (eds.), Mark Dion: The Academy of Things, Berlin: Walther König, 2015
'A Running Wolf and Other Grey Animals: The Various Shapes of Marcus Coates', in Samantha George and Bill Hughes (eds.), The Company of Wolves: Werewolves, Wolves, and Wild Children - Narratives of Sociality and Animality, Manchester: Manchester University Press [forthcoming]
2015 'Marcus Coates: UR…A Practical Guide to Unconscious Reasoning (2014)', book review in Object, Department of History of Art peer-reviewed journal, University College London
2016 'Ape Culture, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 30 April - 6 July 2015', exhibition review in Object, Department of History of Art peer-reviewed journal, University College London
2017 'Wonder in Contemporary Artistic Practice, ed. by Irene Brown and Christian Mieves', book review in Object, Department of History of Art peer-reviewed journal, University College London [forthcoming]
11 October 2017 'Art and Craftivism for the Chthulucene! Working Together for Wildlife', Forming Collectives: Strategies in Modern and Contemporary Art, workshop at Warburg-Haus, Hamburg
14 March 2017 'Some Thoughts on the Prevalence of Wonder in Contemporary Art and Exhibitions', Opening the Cabinet of Curiosities workshop, V&A
13 December 2016 'From 'Live and Stuffed' to Botched and Performed: Some thoughts towards an evolution of artist-animal relations', History of Art Seminar, University of Hamburg
12 December 2016 Introduction and discussion on Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno as part of Curious Matters, Galerie für Landschaftskunst, Hamburg
10 June 2016 'Placid Predators: On some 'wild beasts' in contemporary art', Wild Beasts: Images of Aggression, Violence & Brutality, University of Hamburg
26 May 2016 'The Art and Craftivism of Representing Extinct and Endangered Species', Animals in Art Symposium, Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol
22 April 2016 'The Art of Craftivism in Museums', NatSCA annual conference, Silk Mill, Derby Museums
10 October 2015 'Sharks at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco', Coldblood(ed), British Animal Studies Network Annual Conference, Cardiff University
3 September 2015 'A Running Wolf and Other Grey Animals: The various shapes of Marcus Coates', Company of Wolves, University of Hertfordshire
13 June 2015 'Art, Animals and Wonder: On some instances of craftivism in museums', Strange Creatures Seminar Day, The Grant Museum of Zoology, London
11 April 2015 'A Wonderful Hunting Museum: Wonder, hunting and contemporary art at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature', Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, Norwich
17 January 2015 'A Wonderful Hunting Museum: Displays at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature', Curiosity 2.0, international conference at The Art Academy, Dresden
6 November 2014 'A Wonderful Hunting Museum? Art Orienté Objet at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature', post-graduate research seminar, History of Art Department, University College London
Spring 2017 Course Tutor: 19th and 20th Century Art in London, Department of History of Art, University College London
Autumn 2016 Course Tutor: 19th and 20th Century Art in London, Department of History of Art, University College London
Spring 2016 Course Tutor: 19th and 20th Century Art in London, Department of History of Art, University College London
Spring 2015 Teaching Assistant for Prof. Briony Fer's second year BA course Image/Object: Modernism and After, Department of History of Art, University College London
Curious Matters Seminar Series
Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art
Art, Design & Architecture