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AnimalitiesLiterary and Cultural Studies Beyond the Human$
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Michael Lundblad

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474400022

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474400022.001.0001

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Staging Humanimality: Patricia Piccinini and a Genealogy of Species Intermingling

Staging Humanimality: Patricia Piccinini and a Genealogy of Species Intermingling

(p.80) Chapter 4 Staging Humanimality: Patricia Piccinini and a Genealogy of Species Intermingling

Sara E. S. Orning

Edinburgh University Press

Orning raises questions about the provocative work of Patricia Piccinini, a contemporary sculptor and artist. Piccinini’s work often stages encounters between what look like human figures and what look like hybrid creatures with both human and nonhuman characteristics. Orning’s focus in these “humanimal” encounters is on the potential they hold for questioning easy distinctions between “the human” and “the animal”, while also drawing attention to the fact that human beings today can already be seen as hybrid, whether we have tissues or organs implanted from nonhuman beings or we recognize that human bodies are made up of cells and micro-organisms that are not necessarily human. Orning connects the uneasiness associated with unsettling what it means to be human to a longer genealogy of putting “monstrous” or “freakish” bodies on display, whether in the form of humans with animal-like features, or animals with human features, particularly in nineteenth-century circus sideshows. But the “species intermingling” that is staged by Piccinini, according to Orning, holds more potential for ethical engagement with “others” of various kinds or species than earlier settings such as freak shows.

Keywords:   humanimality, Patricia Piccinini, hybrid creatures, “the human”, “the animal”, freak shows, species intermingling

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