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Between bodies: an artist's account of the oral connection between human and dog

By Angela Bartram

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The research in the chapter ‘Between Bodies: an artist’s account of the oral connection between human and dog’ in the book Intimacy Across Visceral and Digital Performance (Palgrave McMillan: 2012) analyses the effect of working in close proximity with domestic dogs in the author’s art practice (with reference to the theories of Donna Haraway, Brian Catling, and Kathy O’Dell, amongst others). This chapter discusses the complex range of anxieties and interests that can arise in the audience of an art practice that relies on the violation of companion species boundaries as seen specifically between woman and dog. It interrogates the various opportunities for misrepresentation and misrecognition of intent when this involves their mouths making contact and being seen to lick. The notion of social and physical danger and being dangerous is discussed with regard to breed specific preconceptions of dogs (for the dogs in the artwork are from breeds whose mouths aggravate and exaggerate anxieties concerned with danger and dribbling) and the woman provocateur who performs as the active agent. The human mouth, articulated as a vulnerable orifice is made the primary focus for interrogation of correct and appropriate social conduct inthis research. The misconception of bestial intent within the author’s artwork ‘Licking Dogs’ is a focus of this text, demonstrated through an analysis of the woman’s conduct as produced through the way her mouth, and its behaviour, are perceived. For in representing the human and the animal in behaviour and social manner, the mouth in performance-based artworks layers a sense of what it is to be other onto the body positioned as other, and this is explored in the text.


Katie Carroll

Date 2012
Publication Title Intimacy across visceral and digital performance
ISBN/ISSN 9780230348868
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Danger
  3. Dogs
  4. Domestic animals
  5. Health
  6. Human-animal interactions
  7. Mammals
  8. Pet ownership
  9. Pets and companion animals
  10. Physical Contact
  11. Social behavior
  12. species boundaries
  13. Women