cover of book

The Owls Are Not What They Seem: Artist as Ethologist
by Arnaud Gerspacher
University of Minnesota Press, 2022
eISBN: 978-1-4529-6739-4 | Paper: 978-1-5179-1356-4


Toward a posthumanist art and ethology

The Owls Are Not What They Seem is a selective history of modern and contemporary engagements with animals in the visual arts and how these explorations relate to the evolution of scientific knowledge regarding animals. Arnaud Gerspacher argues that artistic knowledge, with its experimental nature, ability to contain contradictions, and more capacious understanding of truth-claims, presents a valuable supplement to scientific knowledge when it comes to encountering and existing alongside nonhuman animals and life worlds. 

Though critical of art works involving animals that are unreflective and exploitative, Gerspacher’s exploration of aesthetic practices by Allora & Calzadilla, Pierre Huyghe, Agnieszka Kurant, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Martin Roth, David Weber-Krebs, and others suggests that, alongside scientific practices, art has much to offer in revealing the otherworldly qualities of animals and forging ecopolitical solidarities with fellow earthlings.

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