Posted by lisagbrown on February 7, 2010
While the rest of Boston was glued to Superbowl Sunday TV, a small group of animal-minded individuals gathered in the brick annex of Newtonville Books to chat with authors Sy Montgomery (Walking with the Great Apes) and Dale Peterson (Elephant Reflections). The Pen/New England event wasn’t a typical book reading. In fact, no one even cracked open a book. Instead, the two authors casually entertained the group with stories of how they began writing about animals. And when that was through, the group of us stood sipping wine and eating cheese, chatting up the charmingly humble authors in the tradition of an old fashioned “salon.”
Dale shared a story about how he used to do carpentry for Steve Jobs in the 80’s, and how he found his voice while travelling the world in pursuit of the 10 most endangered primates. Sy extolled her love of Emus, and explained the depression she endured when she left her six-month stint in the outback of Australia. Even though both Dale and Sy have books coming out soon, neither read passages from their books. Instead, they shared a little of themselves: their writing process, their personal relationships with animals, and their experiences with publishers. “When you can’t believe in yourself, and I often can’t, you can believe in the animals you apprentice yourself to,” explained Sy.
Posted in Animal Behavior, Animals, Conservation, Extinction, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Identity, Literature, Photography, Primates, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »
Posted by lisagbrown on September 27, 2009
The newest issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture is now available for download. The theme of the issue is insects — namely, our uncomfortable relationship with them and how we can come to see beauty in creepy crawlies. The issue was inspired by Pestival, a week-long festival in London celebrating insects. As Giovanni Aloi, editor-in-chief of Antennae, says:
…this issue of Antennae looks at some of the most challenging and interesting contemporary artists working with insects. The “excuse” for ‘Insecta’ to be released right now is Pestival 2009, “A festival celebrating insects in art, and the art of being an insect” which took place at London’s Southbank Centre this September. Pestival’s aim is to examine insect-human interactivity in bioscience through paradigms of contemporary art, cinema, music and comedy as well as through direct scientific demonstration and educational projects.
Click on the image above to be redirected to the Antennae homepage.
Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Literature, Music, Photography, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »
Posted by lisagbrown on June 29, 2009
I guess I imagined that Michael Jackson’s chimp Bubbles still lived at the Neverland Ranch, that he was a member of MJ’s menagerie, or maybe that he had an enclosure in the King of Pop’s house. To be honest, I never gave the matter much thought until Michael Jackson died last week and I found myself thinking, what about Bubbles?
It could be said that Jackson’s purchase of Bubbles (at age 3) in 1985 marked the beginning of Jackson’s decline into increasingly eccentric behavior. Bubbles made appearances in Jackson’s videos; he was present in the recording studio as Jackson recorded his album Bad; he even accompanied Jackson on a tour of Japan and they reportedly shared a hotel room.
By Jackson’s own account, he gave up Bubbles when his son was born, fearing that the chimp may become aggressive. But the real story is less clear. Some people report that there were many young “Bubbles'” over the years, or at the very least, there were a number of different apes that lived with Jackson. According to reliable sources, the reality is that the original Bubbles actually lived for most of his life with a trainer in California. And what is clear, is that in 2005 Bubbles was moved to the Center for Great Apes sanctuary, where he currently resides.
Last week I posted an interview with Charles Siebert whose book, The Wauchula Woods Accord, chronicles the sad lives of former entertainment chimps living in America. Siebert’s chimp friend Roger lives at the same sanctuary that Bubbles does, along with more than 40 other apes. To describe the story of Bubbles is to rehash the same heartbreaking tale that has been recounted again and again and again. Adorable baby chimps are purchased by the rich and put to work as actors and entertainers. They become adult chimps very quickly who are too strong to be around humans, and are then forced to spend the rest of their 50-55 years behind bars. I can’t help but wonder what will cause these stories to change.
The photo above shows a very young Bubbles with Michael Jackson in the mid 80’s. The photo below is by Joe Zammit-Lucia (whose work I highlighted in a blog entry a few weeks ago), and shows Bubbles as he is today. Joe is offering fine archival prints of the photo for purchase, and proceeds from the sales will go directly to The Center for Great Apes, where Bubbles lives. If you are interested in purchasing a print, click here to go to Joe’s web site. Alternatively, you can make donations directly at the sanctuary’s web site. To take care of all of their apes, it costs the sanctuary $16,000 per year, per chimp ($43 per day, per chimp).
“Bubbles” by Joe Zammit-Lucia
To specifically learn more about Bubbles, click here.
Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Ethics, Human-Animal Bond, Photography, Primates, Representations, Television | 1 Comment »
Posted by lisagbrown on June 21, 2009
Please visit Antennae‘s website to download (for free!!) the newest issue of the ever-wonderful Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture. The theme of the issue is heat. As Giovanni Aloi, the journal’s editor-in-chief, explains:
This issue of Antennae is fully dedicated to climate change. “Heat” pieces together a selection of artists’ responses to climate changes as experienced in different geographical, social and cultural realities. In doing so, we have tried to evenly divide our attention through a range of issues related to and departing from global warming.
Also, towards the end of the issue, please check out my interview with Geralyn Pezanoski, the director of MINE, an incredible documentary about the fate of companion animals during hurricane Katrina.
Posted in Amphibians, Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Conservation, Dogs, Ethics, Extinction, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Literature, Photography, Public Policy, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »
Posted by lisagbrown on June 2, 2009
“Portraits celebrating the animal as individual, not as mere specimen of species…”
Photos and text by Joe Zammit-Lucia
“In the world of animal portraiture I would like to explore the narrow space between the animal as an object … and the animal as human property or as anthropomorphized or aesthetic object. A space where the conversation is about mutual respect between the subject and the viewer.”
“Some scholars see wildlife photography as the modern equivalent of Victorian big game hunting and the colonial attitudes that went with it. We ‘shoot’ and ‘capture’ animals and display the resulting images as trophies — the proud acheivement of an intrepid photographer ‘hunting with the camera.'”
“In some wildlife images, the animal, while visible to the eye, may not be visible to the mind. It is objectified or hidden in the blaze of color or the abstract pattern or the species behavior or the romanticized magnificence of Nature that is the true subject of the image.”
“The use of the collective [term] ‘wildlife’ leads us to view animals not as individuals but rather as specimens of species.”
All text and images are by Joe Zammit-Lucia. Text is from the artist’s statement. The artist donates all profits from his photography to environmental causes.
Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Conservation, Ethics, Human-Animal Studies, Photography, Primates, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »
Posted by lisagbrown on April 7, 2009
The March/April 2009 issue of Art Ltd. is all about art that comments on environmental issues. While the whole magazine is a wonderful exploration of contemporary eco-art, of particular interest to me was the cover story about mutant animals. These pieces explore the ways that human relationships with animals (wild animals,in particular), can be confused, irresponsible, and at times adversarial. As editor in chief George Melrod says in his article,
Whether examining genetic modification or the commodification of the environment, whether investigating the unintended consequences of technology or the subtle power struggles implicit in interpersonal relationships, we can always set forth animals to make our case for us, calling them to the stand like so many injured furred-or-feathered witnesses for the prosecution. That these creatures don’t always understand their own malformity or plight only makes their tales more arresting, their situation all the more poignant. In some cases, these hybrids seem perfectly at ease with their eccentric anatomy. Often, however, their defects or dislocations do not seem to their benefit; rather these alterations seem detrimental, capricious, parasitic, imposed on them, or just plain wrong. In their disfigurement or displacement, these creatures do not seem like happy travelers on the Darwinian flow chart toward biological adaptation and collective self-betterment; rather they seem to be the result of a more malignant, distinctly unnatural selection.
Read the entire article at Art Ltd. or pick up the issue at your local bookstore.
(Above: Misako Inaoka, Green-pin Bird, 2006)
Posted in Animals, Art, Conservation, Human-Animal Studies, Photography, Representations, Theory | 1 Comment »
Posted by lisagbrown on February 25, 2009
Be sure to check out the latest issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture. Of “Pretty Ugly, Volume 2,” Giovanni Aloi, the journal’s editor-in-chief explains,
This volume predominantly addresses the concept of ‘Pretty Ugly’ as a matter of proximity and distance between us and animals combined with a focus on the overpowering physicality that animals posses: too distant to be understood, within reach of our mouths, or far too close for comfort.
Posted in Animals, Art, Human-Animal Studies, Literature, Photography, Public Policy, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »
Posted by lisagbrown on December 28, 2008
Please check out the incredible writing and art in the new issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, entitled “Pretty Ugly”. As editor-in-chief Giovanni Aloi explains in his editorial:
This issue of Antennae looks at [a] paradoxical contradiction. What makes one plant or animal look pretty to us and what makes another appear ugly? What is desirable and what is undesirable?
Enjoy this feast of text and images…
Posted in Animals, Art, Human-Animal Studies, Literature, Photography, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »
Posted by lisagbrown on December 7, 2008
There is nothing I love more than perusing my favorite blogs. Too often, the medium of blogging gets a bad rap because anyone can have a blog (and almost everyone does!) But that’s not the medium’s fault. Just like there are terrible and wonderful books, movies and art, there are terrible and wonderful blogs, as well. You just have to know how to sift through the bad to find the good, and this can be an intimidating endeavor. I highly recommend every single one of the blogs listed on my blogroll, but I thought I’d highlight the ones I’ve been completely addicted to lately. Enjoy!
Antennae isn’t actually a blog (it’s a journal), but it’s full of fascinating articles, interviews, art and tidbits by many of the most influential contemporary animal/nature writers and artists. Download the current issue “Botched Taxidermy” as a PDF on their website.
This blog is authored by Vanessa Woods, a Bonobo researcher who is stationed at Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary in the Congo. Her blog is full of vibrant color photos, descriptions of her relationships with the bonobos and a no-holds-barred personal account of the politics of bonobo protection.
You may have noticed my previous enthusiasm for this blog, but it bears repeating. Daily Coyote is the day-to-day account of Shreve Stockton’s efforts to raise an orphaned coyote pup. Not only are her photos breathtakingly beautiful, but Shreve’s determination to chronicle this adventure responsibly (i.e., to reiterate that she will never again undertake an experience like this, and that coyotes are not meant to be pets) is commendable.
For a more intellectual and theoretical perspective on animals, check out the blog of Boria Sax, one of the stand-out powerhouses in the burgeoning field of human-animal studies.
Red Star Cafe is undoubtedly one of my all time favorite blogs. I like to imagine that I’m the only one who knows about this amazing treasure-trove of writing. I’m only sharing this little secret with you because I know you won’t tell anyone else about the intelligence, insight and originality with which they write about animals and nature in culture. Shh. Don’t tell. Our secret.
This blog is the ‘notebook’ of Boston-based writer and professor Steve Himmer. Steve posts his favorite highlights from blogs, books and more, and all of it is about nature, animals and writing. It’s a great source of inspiration, and a way to find hidden gems.
In the past, my own blog has been called, “wonderfully specific,” a compliment that I’d like to pass on to Taxidermy: Ravishing Beasts. It is a smart, engaging blog about the beauty, controversy, and power of taxidermy.
This bilingual blog by a Columbia University doctoral student combines her love of 18th century literature, contemporary American popular culture, and razor-sharp autobiography, into one big, diverse, delightful read.
Posted in Advertising, Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Birds, Cats, Comics, Conservation, Dogs, Ethics, Extinction, Film, Fish, Food Animals, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Identity, Literature, Music, Photography, Primates, Public Policy, Radio, Religion, Representations, Television, Theory | 3 Comments »
Posted by lisagbrown on October 15, 2008
The Daily Coyote (which has long held a place on my blogroll) is up for a Blogger’s Choice Award. The voting ends tomorrow (Thursday, October 16th), so I strongly urge readers to vote for Daily Coyote as the Best Animal Blog. Most impressively, Daily Coyote is in the top three, up against Cuteoverload.com and ICanHasCheezburger.com, two of the most popular animal sites on the net. While these two sites are fun, entertaining, and charming, Daily Coyote makes unparalleled contributions to the dialog about human-animal relationships. The site, by photographer Shreve Stockton, follows her experiences in adopting an orphaned coyote named Charlie. By combining photos and prose, Shreve allows viewers to have a better understanding of the artificial boundaries between wild and tame.
Vote for Daily Coyote at Blogger’s Choice Awards
Posted in Animal Behavior, Animals, Art, Dogs, Ethics, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Literature, Photography, Representations | Leave a Comment »