In partnership with the FEMINIST RESEARCH NETWORK, MECO has invited Dr Yvette Watt to present a lecture on her current research, all welcome.
10 February 2016 10.15am research hub, bldg 19, UOW
Animal Factories and Anti-Duck-Shooting: Negotiating Academia as an Activist Artist
Dr Yvette Watt
This paper will begin by giving an overview of a major art project that involved photographing large- scale industrial animal farms around Australia from publicly accessible vantage points. The images aimed to capture the ‘internment’ or ‘concentration’ camp style layout of these industrial farms, with the total absence of animals in the imagery serving to highlight the hidden and secretive nature of the unnatural and restricted environment endured by the animals housed inside the windowless sheds. The Animal Factories project, which received research funding through the University of Tasmania, pursued an ongoing interest in the role of art in communicating issues surrounding the ethics of human-animal relations. However, the intersection of art, activism and academia can provide challenges – a matter that will be addressed through a discussion of a project that I am currently working on, which involves staging a performance of Swan Lake at the opening of duck shooting season in Tasmania. While the two projects differ dramatically in their methodologies, both are concerned with visibility and invisibility; of the animals, of the farming/hunting practices, and of the projects’ profiles within the academy. The paper closes by speculating on whether it is possible for the “artivist” academic to resist the kind of institutional compliance that can deaden the creative response to animal suffering.
Yvette Watt is a Lecturer in Fine Art at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania, where she also completed a MFA and a PhD. She is a committee member of Minding Animals Australia and Co-Director of the UTAS Faculty of the Arts Environment Research Group. Yvette’s art practice spans 30 years. She has held numerous solo exhibitions and has been the recipient of a number of grants and awards. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections including Parliament House, Canberra, Artbank and the Art Gallery of WA. Yvette has been actively involved in animal advocacy since the mid-1980s, including being a founder of Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania, and her artwork is heavily informed by her activism. She is a contributor to and co-editor (along with Carol Freeman and Elizabeth Leane) of the collection titled Considering Animals: Contemporary Studies in Human-Animal Relations (Ashgate, 2011). Other essays by Yvette include ‘Artists, Animals and Ethics’ in Antennae (2011, issue 19) and ‘Animal Factories: Exposing Sites of Capture’ in Captured: The Animal Within Culture (Palgrave McMillian, 2014, edited by Melissa Boyde).