An Opera for Animals
248 pp., 7 x 10 in, 70 b&w illus.
- Published: August 1, 2023
- Publisher: Sternberg Press
- Rights: not for sale in Europe or the UK
On the intersection of Western and Chinese opera, performance, power, colonialism, non-human pasts and futures, classical music, technology, and artificial intelligence.
An Opera for Animals will take the eponymous exhibition which debuted at Para Site, Hong Kong, and Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai in 2019 as its starting point. The exhibition examined how “opera” has been used as the name to describe various traditions of performance, social arrangement, entertainment, and spiritual work from around the world. By considering the almost perfect chronological overlap between the golden age of Western opera and Europe's occupation of most of the world, at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, the exhibition considered how the modern view, deeply connected to the colonial project, also changed the physical, emotional, and symbolic relationship between humans and animals, elevating the status of humans, in a view radically different from many indigenous systems of knowledge and value. The exhibition explored the way in which the future is now projected less as the rational thinking commonly remembered from the post-war era—advanced machinery, design, and social forms—and once more as a place of amorphous fear, of animals that might take over in artificial landscapes.