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Animal WorldsFilm, Philosophy and Time$
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Laura McMahon

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474446389

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474446389.001.0001

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Still/Moving: Bestiaire’s Lives in Limbo

Still/Moving: Bestiaire’s Lives in Limbo

(p.66) Chapter 2 Still/Moving: Bestiaire’s Lives in Limbo
Animal Worlds

Laura McMahon

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter explores Côté’s Bestiaire, an experimental documentary about a zoo that initially seems in thrall to Bazin’s idea that the onscreen animal reveals cinematic specificity. Exploring the exhibition of animals both living and dead, still and moving, Côté’s film invokes two key metaphorical positionings (cinema as zoo/taxidermy), privileging a self-reflexive form of ontological investigation. This chapter traces these ontological investments by drawing on accounts such as Lippit on the ‘electric’ animal, Bellour on hypnotic animal images and Haraway on taxidermy. Folded into Bestiaire’s set of somewhat essentialising, ontologising reflections, however, is an implicit questioning of the politics of the zoo and its links to biopower, neocolonialism, captivity and suffering. Structured by these tensions between the ontological, the aesthetic and the political, Bestiaire reflects on the zoo both as a metaphor for cinematic ‘animality’ qua cinematic specificity and as a set of lived, material conditions. While Bestiaire’s distension of ‘dead time’ keeps the focus above all on questions of captivity – its durational aesthetic bearing witness to lives left in limbo – its Deleuzian time-images invite attentiveness to animal worlds of embodiment, perception and meaning-making that reach beyond the biopolitical grid of imprisoned life.

Keywords:   Côté, Bestiaire, time-image, zoo, captivity, taxidermy, ontology, Deleuze, Guattari

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