Animals Off Display

Marianna Szczygielska

Abstract


This series of photographs is an attempt to explore the impossible spaces of the contemporary zoological garden from a queer ecological perspective. I intentionally focus on the artificiality and finitude of the zoo landscape rather than on nonhuman animal bodies that are already overrepresented in the zoological reimagination of natural habitats. The zoo with its taxidermic taxonomy captures nonhuman animals within the species boundaries, turning them into things on display. Wary of the limits of representation I focus on what usually remains in the background, or functions as an obstacle for “wildlife photography,” on the very edges of the voyeuristic imagemaking practice so present in the zoo nowadays. In this sense I see the zoo as a paradigmatic example of a Foucauldian heterotopia—a real place that stands outside of its space, and creates an illusion of a world in miniature captured in a timeless void.1 There is no fire in a two-dimensional forest; there is no key to the door in the painted jungle. The photographs were taken in various zoological gardens around the world (Hungary, Poland, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada) as part of a large project, “Queer(ing) Naturecultures: The Study of Zoo Animals.


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MANAGING EDITORS   Sarah Iannicello, Benjamin J. Kapron

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UNDERCURRENTS EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE - VOL. 20 (2017): ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

VOL 20 CFP PRIMARY AUTHOR   Ronak Ghorbani Nejad

SCHOLARLY REVIEW TEAM   James Arruda, Nicole Beuglet, Julie Chamberlain, Aadita Chaudhury, Amanda Di Battista, Kesha Fevrier, Sarah Iannicello, Adam Linnard, Jessica Lukawiecki, Jacob McLean, Michaela McMahon, Indra Singh

CREATIVE REVIEW TEAM   Nicole Beuglet, Amanda Di Battista, Sarah Iannicello, Morgan Johnson, Kelly King, Andrew Mark, Eva Mencin, Indra Singh

COPY EDITORS   Sarah Iannicello, Benjamin J. Kapron, Rachel Lam, Anthony Sandre

LAYOUT AND DESIGN   Benjamin J. Kapron, Kelly King, Scott Lillico, Max Meyer

GRADUATE ASSISTANTS   Sarah Iannicello, Adam Linnard, Jessica Lukawiecki, Jacob McLean

TREASURER   Jeffrey Zavala

PRINTER   York University Printing Services, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON  M3J 1P3 printing@yorku.ca

FUNDING SUPPORT   Faculty of Environmental Studies (York University), PhD Environmental Studies Student Association

SPECIAL THANKS TO   Nina de Jesus, Amanda Di Battista, Ruben Esguerra, Steve Glassman, Darren Patrick, Lily Piccone, Dr. Catriona Sandilands, and Dr. Peter Timmerman

COVER ARTWORK   Kokila Bhattacharya