This installation is part of my Arts Politics Master's thesis. Originally intended to be on campus at New York University, it has been adapted to this virtual space for the time being. My goal was simply to highlight the animals all around us, in hopes of making their subjective experience as beings more visible in a society that thrives off of rendering them invisible and to invite viewers to think about the ways nonhuman animals are inextricably linked to human life.
Real live animals, throughout history, are present in transportation, food, fashion, entertainment, religion, politics, on land, in the air, and in the waters, yet they are too often invisible in academic discussions of history, art, science, social justice, and politics. Through this invisibility it is easier to not see representations of animals in advertising, in film, in the stuffed animals we hold, as representing real beings with subjective experiences in the world.
My main objective is to make visible animals as these beings that are full of life. What might follow from this visibility is recognizing what animals offer us when we consider them seriously. To consider animals seriously is to consider alternative ways of being in the world and knowing the world, it is to consider alternative ways of seeing humans, alternative ways of engaging with the environment. They offer other languages and ways of communicating that can be heard, seen, felt, when we take them seriously and take the time to listen. I say this while being aware that the current dominant capitalist system of western society does not allow for many to have that time to engage in that listening. And so, I gently offer that anytime we can engage in these moments of recognizing relationship, in honoring the other animals with us, it is an act not only of connection and love that directly relates to social, political, and economic issues, but also an act of defying that system that asks us to ignore them. It is my hope that this awareness and acknowledgment can and will carry into discussions across disciplines in and out of the classroom, and in doing so, new perspectives, and opportunities for living with all beings in a kinder way will reveal themselves.
So many thanks for the support and guidance of my project advisors, the Arts Politics faculty, the professors and students of the Animal Studies department at NYU, and for my incredible cohort who continue to inspire and motivate me and my work.
Sophie Labelle received her undergraduate degree in drama and gender and sexuality studies from New York University. She is currently pursuing her masters in Arts Politics at New York University. A performer and creator, her work includes choreography, dance, text, soundscape, and spoken word, often bringing up themes of compassion, connectivity, history, gender, species, american politics, war, and american pop culture. Artistic bases are in Los Angeles and New York City.
She can also be seen in her webseries No Chill @nochilltheseries