A Lamb Baste 13th November 200 7.30pm was a Radio Animal event by Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson.
Grizedale Arts hosted the meal at which a number of invited people, including artists, curators and arts facilitators, animal studies scholars, and local interested parties discussed the issue of ‘animal’, other-animal proximity and our mutual bordering.
In advance of the event we published the following:–
“We want to approach issues of identity in relation to animals. Why are we culturally so ambivalent in respect of who we are and how we should behave in the presence of either the term ‘animal’ or indeed animals themselves. As human animals, culturally we tend to value those animals that are not ourselves or very, very like us, chiefly in relation to their effectiveness in fulfilling some human function or need, or conversely the threat we believe they might hold to challenge our will or comfort.
Awareness of self, a faculty we (human-animals) believe separates us from other species, has unexpectedly brought us a troubled relationship with non-human animals. Because of this it could be argued, that a necessary psychological distance has been established between us and those species over which we exercise the most control.
Because so much of what we are in adulthood is inherited, our subscription to this legacy, leads us to believe without question in the apparent cultural order of things. Such belief generally, is accepting of our dominion over others and an elevated evolutionary position in relation to other species and thus fails in turn to recognize an intrinsic interdependence between species. An acknowledgement of this, might well have helped us avoid many of the more difficult consequences we face today in respect of the environment and therefore paradoxically our own as well as everyone else’s survival.
The bottom line for such considerations is one concerning habitat – all species adapt well or less well, for better or for worse to different habitats and when those specialist habitats fail, an ability to move or to adapt quickly enough to survive, is tested. Uncertainty In The City (Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson’s project commissioned by Storey Gallery, Lancaster, UK) is a speculative, artists’ exploration into the relationship between humans and the animals that nudge at and breach the borders of our homes. At the heart of this enquiry is the membrane that is breached, whether this is a material ’skin’ of bricks and mortar, fences and land, or a linguistic contrivance.
Radio Animal has been on the road since early summer 2009, asking questions of people regarding their proximity with other species, and discussing their experiences with others in the home, hidden in the fabric of their home, in the garden and otherwise as they go about their daily business.
At a time when environmental peril is discussed as a global issue and overheard in some form by us on a daily basis, leaving us often with a sense of impotence in the face of the inevitable, artists Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson are examining what ‘environment’ might mean in a more intimate and domestic sense – where consideration of this term might trigger a more meaningful and evocative recognition for individuals and where the sharing of space between species and its consequences might resonate more powerfully, allowing some chance of new understanding (and even, new behaviour).”
Illustrator Meg Falconer, farmer John Atkinson, Guest Room artist Maria Benjamin, poet Jack Maynard, writer and critic Rikke Hansen, tech fiend Dorian Moore, Grizedale Arts Director Adam Sutherland, artist Karen Guthrie, Alistair Hudson and Radio Animal artists Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson.
Radio Animal was in Lancaster on Friday 23rd October, conducting interviews with passing Lancastrians and visitors in which the focus was on contested human/non-human animal borders – in short, interspeciesspaces. People with stories of animal encounters within the home were invited to visit the mobile Radio Animal unit, bringing their ideas, perspectives or concerns regarding ‘encroachment’ and the sharing of space with the ‘animal other’. In addition we spoke to a number of invited interviewees including an angler and hunt follower, the Bird Man of Torrisholme and an artist with a special interest in taxonomy and anthropology.
Thanks to Karen Slinger, Shona Harrison and Christian for all your help on the day
Interspecies is an Arts Catalyst project, an exhibition curated by Rob Le Frenais and here at The A Foundation in London, it was host also to a three-day series of events and seminars. Radio Animal was there as an exhibit and functioned as a conduit for visitors’ agonizings over the spaces they share with species other than their own.
On this day we made two visits in and around Lancaster to individuals who share space with animals
colin gale invited us into his home – a modestly sized, mid-terraced house in Lancaster which he shares with exotic birds. Parakeets, parrotlets, finches, tropical starlings, amongst others, occupy the stacks of cages lining the walls of every room (excepting the bathroom). In other aquariums and cages he also plays host to numerous tropical fishes, geckos and poisonous dart frogs
linda wilson explains how to out-think the bees or how they out-think us into helping them make a stronger hive
In June we visited the Broughton Hall Game Fair. We met with a number of ‘animal oriented’ people and conducted some interviews. One man we spoke to runs a green pest control supplies store. He was full of information on how the implications of short term chemical pest control have moved him to go down this route. (see the interview below) We asked him if there was a particular ‘pest’ he would like to be de-classified. He told us that despite his own work involving their trapping, his would be the mole because the mole is a hard worker and an animal that ‘just gets on with it’.
For our first excursion we were at Appleby Horse Fair. We stayed on Fair Hill and spoke to a number of people on the matter of the relationship between travelling people and their animals. We were interested to know what differences a more itinerant lifestyle had on attitudes towards personal space and the encroachment of other species.
Radio Animal in the thick of it on Fair Hill. Appleby Horse Fair is the biggest, most alluring and enduring gathering of travelling people in Europe – ‘the Romany Mecca’. (Billy Welch is the organizer of the Appleby Horse Fair and here he talks about the travellers’ diet, regard of ‘nature’ and attitude towards the horses, other animals and the notion of pests.
Billy Lloyd discusses witnessing the unsolicited killing of a may bug – at dawn and then estimates the limits of equine pain