Other: History/Philosophy - Relationship Human/Non-Human
Fear of the Familiar
By Danusia Young (04/19/10 23:36:18)
Related animal: Dog

In the Chapter #8 of The Postmodern Animal, Steve Baker explores how animal imagery has been used in modern and contemporary art and performance, and in postmodern philosophy and literature. Baker persuasively analyses the work of such European and American artists as Olly and Suzi, Mark Dion, Paula Rego and Sue Coe etc… Baker suggests that the continuing attraction of the animal for artists, philosophers and others is the perception that the animal is in some way aligned with creativity. He points that human beings look for the same trades or characteristic in animal as they seek in themselves. It is very difficult to think of how humans can produce meanings that are not at the some level going to be human-centered and anthropomorphic. When artist create work from that perspective his piece can be labeled as “sentimental in relation to the animal”. Many people, according to Baker, would say that sentimentality has been given an overly bad name in relation to human thinking about animals. But because so many artist have pets them-selves I do not think that they will view being sentimental toward any animal something that is terrible. On the other hand, they know that they are working in an environment where they really can't afford to have their art labeled as sentimental. Sentimentalism will remove immediately any degree of seriousness or critical engagement from their art piece. As Baker points the artists have to keep their animal oriented art pieces on the right side of that division between serious art and sentimental one. I think that another very interesting statement is:” For many contemporary artists, too, the way they deal with animals reflects the way they see themselves as artists” (169).

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