Between paper and the internet, reversing the usual roles of the two media: an online show commissioned by NERO and presented here through its related press release

curated by ruba katrib

An online exhibition 
Opening January 15 2013
January 15 - March 15, 2013 

Not only men but women and animal protectionists exhibit a culturally con- ditioned indifference toward, and prejudice against, creatures whose lives appear too slavishly, too boringly, too stupidly female, too “cowlike.” More- over, we regard conscious logical reasoning as the only valid sort of “mind.” Evidence that chimpanzees possess such a mind is a primary reason why many are now insisting that they should be granted “human rights.” Human rights for chimpanzees? Yes. Human rights for chickens? Meaningless.

Karen Davis, Thinking Like a Chicken: Farm Animals and the Feminine Con- nection, 1995

We are drawn to non-human animals and sometimes they are drawn to us. Even though philosophers and scientists have long attempted to further the gap between us, we are animals too! It is increasingly evident that our attachment has grown, and we have let our love for cats, dogs, and dolphins run shamelessly rampant on the internet. Recently, museums have even held exhibitions of cat videos and galleries have hosted dog themed shows. Perhaps this signals a change in the way we behave towards animals? Cuteness and violence circulate on a much larger scale, although cuteness tends to win out. Websites like Facebook and YouTube have pushed the visibility of animals to new levels, a phenomenon that has crept into contemporary art.

While it’s safe to say that most enjoy adorable animal images and videos, which are increasingly accessible and remarkably inventive, what does our liking of animals imply? And further, what does our liking of particular animals over others indicate? Are we informing ourselves about animals in order to aid them, to promote interspecies harmony, or are there more pernicious effects of the countless hours logged looking at cats on pianos and beavers holding hands? We can email an image of a cute cow to a friend, but then ignore a video of a cow being violently slaughtered, in ways that break regulations and question our humanity. Or more commonly, we can look at images of cute kittens, but ignore the thousands of strays and shelter cats that are neglected and euthanized every year. What exactly is this space, between knowing and ignoring, and how has it been affected through the increased images available? Is this material solely entertainment, or is some form of knowledge produced? What is at the heart of our love for some animals and our disdain for others? Does cuteness connect or divide?

Liking Animals examines these questions and issues, looking at examples of how art and the internet ask non-human animals to perform.

Ruba Katrib (1982) is curator at Sculpturecenter in Long Island City, New York. Previously Katrib was associate curator at the MOCA, North Miami. She has contributed texts to a number of publications, catalogs and periodicals internationally.