Inappropriate(d) others: or the difficulty of being a dog

Williams, David (2007) Inappropriate(d) others: or the difficulty of being a dog. TDR:The Drama Review, 51 (1). pp. 92-118. ISSN 1531-4715

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Abstract / Summary

This 11,000 word essay emerges from a body of focused research into animals and performance undertaken over the past 8 years. As well as developing a critical historiography of performance forms/practices that are often overlooked, and proposing analyses of representations of certain ‘animal others’ (particularly horses, birds, dogs, and artists’ bestiaries), this cluster of work focuses on a number of core research questions: about ethics, identity and difference, seeming, being and doing, and the infinite works-in-progress that performative becomings make of identities.

This text, commissioned as part of an issue of TDR devoted to animality and performance, assembles an anomalous pack of dogs, both real and make-believe, 'to think with' in ways that are playfully purposeful. Each of them is involved in a performance practice: Laika, the Russian cosmonaut, a canine stand-in/understudy for humans in scientific research; Little John, a coyote performer in an iconic gallery-based installation (Joseph Beuys’s 'Coyote: I Like America, and America Likes Me'); a video work about a convicted Afghani killer whose aberrant behaviour earns him the appellation ‘dog’ (Langlands and Bell’s 'Zardad’s Dog'); a number of ‘dog-impressionists’ each endeavouring to ‘become-dog’ in different ways and to different ends (Nobuhira Narumi’s 'Dog-Cam' projects, Oleg Kulik’s 'Zoophrenia' series; and Cathy Naden’s derisory pantomime-dog in Forced Entertainment’s 'Showtime'). What kinds of performative and critical work do these dogs do for us? What models of performance do they propose? What might their stagings of interspecies relations tell us of the constitutive horizon or ‘outside’ of human-being, and about the very categories ‘human’ and ‘animal’?

Item Type: Article
ISBN: 15314715
ISSN: 1531-4715
Depositing User: Ex Falmouth Staff
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2014 14:59
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2023 13:13


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