“Anthropologists don’t believe in things, they believe out of them.” Roy Wagner
Animal traps are perspectivist technologies, capable of interfacing between worlds or jurisdictions. Like the Guyana spring trap that “turns fish into fruit” (Gell 1996), traps mobilise subjects across ontological registers and elicit extraordinary effects from unpromising materials. This research asks how hunters render something out of nothing and presence out of absence, creating value and mobility from scant resources.
The journey begins with a fictional exhibition described by Alfred Gell in his 1996 essay “Vogel’s Net: Traps as Artworks and Artworks as Traps”, and an ethnography of animal trapping techniques in Northern Manitoba and neighbouring provinces. Treating traps as sites in which a range of often contradictory perspectival relations come into focus – hunter and prey, human and non-human, society and nature, economy and environment – this ethnography zooms out to situate the nexus of the trap in a broader mesh of natural, social, economic and political relations, and zooms in to consider the multi-sensory aesthetics of trapping as a form of “art practice” geared towards beyond-human thought and perception.
In cross-cutting between beyond-human anthropology and practices of making, a new space opens up for the production of “impossible” art forms that conflate different perspectival systems and find ingenious ways to transform their current situation into a new one.
Hermione Spriggs is an artist, researcher and exhibition-maker exploring practical methods for perspective-exchange. Her collaborative project the Anthropology of Other Animals (“AoOA”) doggedly attempts to elicit extraordinary effects from unpromising materials and explores the hidden links between “craft” and “being crafty.” Hailing from Yorkshire, Spriggs holds an MFA in visual art from UC San Diego and is a fellow of Mildred’s Lane (PA, USA). She is currently undertaking practice-based PhD research at UCL based between the Department of Anthropology and Slade School of Art, and is curator and contributing editor for the exhibition and publication project "Five Heads: Art, Anthropology and Mongol Futurism" (UCL Department of Anthropology/ Sternberg Press).