Animality – Women, Animals and Instinct

An Exhibition by Photographer and Artist Casey Orr

Tribal Ali by Casey Orr for The Animal Library poster“The Animal Library – Women, Animals and Instinct” examines how Nature and Culture intertwine and explores the different relationships women have with animals; the cultural understanding of the language of women, the histories of women and nature, and our relationship to animals and our animal selves through photographs and reproductions of the books and library artefacts.

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I was photographed along with 10 other women who embody what she hopes to explore and communicate – an understanding of culture as not separate from nature but that the two are intertwined; both integral to a definition what it is to be human.

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The dictionary definition of ‘animality’ reads: ‘the animal nature of human beings.’

Quote…. “Animality is an exploration of the different relationships women have with animals. These range from women who align themselves with animals and their inherent powers through the wearing of fur, animal print and feather to women who, through animal husbandry and farm work, have a daily commitment to animals. These women live and work with animals, know the rhythms inherent in farm life and have the visceral understanding of non-human nature that their work demands. For other women, they simply share their life’s rhythms with animals. The species boundary dissolves and pets become companion and family. The women and animal lives intertwine in human domestic life.

As notions of gender and sexuality begin to be understood more as a moving spectrum of being and identity, so our relationship to animals, to our animality, might be better read as such instead of the strict and codified animal-human binary we’ve been taught. In Western culture, nature and culture are usually conceptualized as distinctly separate. But not all societies make this distinction between nature and culture. For some, being natural can mean something more than simply ‘not cultural’.

With Animality I am consciously aligning women to nature, and saying, yes, perhaps through menstruation and childbirth, hormones and cycles, women, untamable and wild, are aligned more to their bodies and to nature. And it’s not to say men aren’t also organic beings – but maybe it’s harder for women to forget our innate wildness because our bodies are always acting in untamed ways.

I am a woman engaged in these cycles and also engaged in culture, the making of cultural artifacts and in the discourses of cultural meanings. I make photographic series and use metaphor and the relationship between images to try and articulate and form my own questions about the meaning of life and the wonder of being.

Animality is a language, a mode of self-expression, and a function of our relationship to non-human nature. We are intertwined in the fabric of this earth life because we’re not just cultural beings – we are also animals”.

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1st December 2015 – 9th January 2016

“THE ANIMAL LIBRARY- WOMEN, ANIMALS, INSTINCT”

Leeds City Central Library, in the City Center.

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