From Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art


Edited by Filipa Ramos

The emergence of contemporary art, engaging widely with other disciplines, as a platform for exploring animal nature.





The emergence of contemporary art, engaging widely with other disciplines, as a platform for exploring animal nature.

Animals have become the focus of much recent art, informing numerous works and projects featured at major exhibitions including dOCUMENTA (13) (2013), the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014), and the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Contemporary art has emerged as a privileged terrain for exploring interspecies relationships, providing the conditions for diverse disciplines and theoretical positions to engage with animal behavior and consciousness.

This interest in animal nature reflects a number of current issues. Observations of empathy among nonhumans prompt reconsiderations of the human. The nonverbal communication of animals has been compared with poetic expansion of the boundaries of language. And the freedom of animal life in the wild from capitalist subordination is seen as a potential model for reconfiguring society and our relationship to the wider environment. Artists' engagement with animals also opens up new perspectives on the dynamics of dominance, oppression, and exclusion, with parallels in human society. Animal nature is at the heart of debates on the Anthropocene era and the ecological concerns of scientists, thinkers, and artists alike. Centered on contemporary artworks, this anthology attests to the trans-disciplinary nature of this subject, with art as one of the principal points of convergence.

Artists surveyed include Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Julieta Aranda, Brandon Ballengée, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Lygia Clark, Marcus Coates, Jimmie Durham, Marcel Dzama, Simone Forti, Pierre Huyghe, Natalie Jeremijenko, Joan Jonas, Eduardo Kac, Mike Kelley, Henri Michaux, Robert Morris, Henrik Olesen, Lea Porsager, Julia Reodica, Carolee Schneemann, Michael Stevenson, Rodel Tapaya, Rosemarie Trockel, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Haegue Yang, Adam Zaretsky

Writers include Giorgio Agamben, Steve Baker, Raymond Bellour, Walter Benjamin, John Berger, Jonathan Burt, Ted Chiang, Simon Critchley, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, David Elliott, Carla Freccero, Maria Fusco, Tristan García, Félix Guattari, Donna J. Haraway, Seung-Hoon Jeong, Miwon Kwon, Chus Martinez, Brian Massumi, Thomas Nagel, Jean-Luc Nancy, Ingo Niermann, Vincent Normand, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Will Self, Jan Verwoert, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro


$24.95 T ISBN: 9780262529358 240 pp. | 5.75 in x 8.25 in

Not for sale in Europe or the UK.


Filipa Ramos

Filipa Ramos is editor-in-chief of art-agenda and a Lecturer in Experimental Film at Kingston University and Moving Image at Central Saint Martins, London. She is the author of Lost and Found: Crisis of Memory in Contemporary Art (2009).


  • Filipa Ramos's intelligent introduction prefaces her carefully curated collections of writings by artists, philosophers, and writers that explore the relationship between contemporary art and animals. An indispensable collection of documents, Animals will appeal to all those interested in 'animal-connected modes of being in the world' and their radical potential, as well as those who believe that 'every word was once an animal'.

    Avery Gordon

    Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Animals have been imperative to art-making since humans first made marks on the walls of subterranean chambers. It is one of the longest threads in the story of culture. This terrific volume features some of the brightest contemporary minds, demonstrating how thinking about other animals in art remains as vital, complex, and paradoxical as it has ever been.

    Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood


  • The animal has always been essential to art, indispensable in the production of subjectivities and conceptions of the anima. This adeptly edited collection assembles reflections on animal metaphors in the arts and their bearings on actual cross-species relations. Contrary to the contemporary ideology of total communicability that underpins the alliance of information-age control-technology with neoliberalism, these texts demonstrate that there is no easy access to animal otherness without a transformation of human self-understanding.

    Anselm Franke

    Head of Visual Arts and Film, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin