The Owls Are Not What They Seem

Artist as Ethologist

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Arnaud Gerspacher

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.

Background photo by Klevis Mehmeti on Unsplash


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    University of Minnesota Press
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    Minneapolis, MN
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    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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    Copyright 2022 by Arnaud Gerspacher
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    Arnaud Gerspacher
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