About animals in the visual and material culture – A call for the conference

Published on
10.2.21

The beginning of western art was with the painting of a Bison on the walls of a cave. Even in Judaism the story about the beginning of humanity involves an animal; a snake which caused a sharp turn in the plot. Since then and until today the animal continues to appear in art. In the field of design it is possible to see the domestication of animals as part of a comprehensive process of designing nature by man, a process which began with the agricultural revolution, and later on was expressed in the myth about the expulsion from heaven.

In recent years a new field of knowledge was formed, called the critical study of animals. This field critically presents the thought of "Man is allowed over beast" as one that perpetuates power structures and traditional discriminating categories. This new thought displays man himself as an animal, and asks why did man exclude the animal pushing it to a place of still life or the "other"? This question allows for the dismantling of the binary division between man and animal, and to clearly present the power systems existing today, which enables man to operate mechanisms of exclusion, imprisonment, violence, control and the exploitation of animals. The binary dissolution of the nature-cultural dichotomy, raises additional questions on the ethical, political and economic responsibility man has over the animals.

The conference will discuss the question of "how do perceptions of animals in culture and science affect the creations and activities of artists and designer throughout history and today?"

Among the other topics we wish to examine:

  • Animals in art and design throughout history and in the contemporary era.
  • The symbolism of animals in culture, art and design.
  • How does the animal challenge post-humanist art?
  • Animals in fashion, cinema, theatre, music and dance.
  • Using animals as a critical stance and as a tool used by artists and designers.
  • Ethical dilemmas in creating with and about animals.
  • The treatment of animals in the Anthropocene era.
  • The use of animals or their parts as raw material.
  • Wild animals versus domesticated animals.
  • Perceptions of nature conservation and their impact on fashion.
  • Zoo design.
  • Animals as accessories and accessories for animals.

The conference is held in collaboration between the Department of Visual and Material Art at Bezalel and the The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University.

The Conference will be held on Sunday 9.5.21 online or face to face, as will be permitted.

It will be based on panels which integrate theorists and scientists next to designers and artists who will be presenting their works. Researchers and creators who wish to speak in the conference are herby invited to suggest topics for lectures of about 20 minutes long, or complete panels on a specific topic.

For further details:

Prof. Ori Bartal, Head of the Visual and Material Culture Department, Bezalel Academy for Art and Design orybartal@bezalel.ac.il

Dr. Yael Gavrieli, the Division of Education and Science Communications, The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University yaelg@tauex.tau.ac.il

The proposals, including title and summary of up to 300 words, must be sent to iritb@bezalel.ac.il no later than Sunday, 1.3.21. Notices informing of participation in the conference will be sent during the month of March.