Seminar – Animals look at us

2. Semester

26. – 29. April 2022

09:30 – 12:30 / 13:30 – 16:30

Universität / Haute École
Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst
Dr. Yvonne Volkart
Contact email
for student applications
Content description

Animals look at us

Animals cannot make copyright claims. With this ruling, the U.S.

Federal Court concluded the years-long legal dispute that the animal

protection organization Peta led on behalf of the macaque Naruto

against the photographer Slater. Naruto had grabbed his camera and

taken selfies. For Peta, it was clear that the photos belonged to the

monkey and not the photographer.

As twisted as this example may seem, it is very telling for our time

today: On the one hand, we face the blurring of dualistic boundaries,

such as the one between animals and humans, and new forms of

subjectivation, on the other one, animals are exploited to a global

degree. Simultanously, they are victimized, regarded as strangers or

given rights as individuals. Art, film, design, architecture and

philosophy have always addressed the precarious relationship

between humans and animals. This relationship will be explored in the

seminar through images, texts, objects, stories, personal observations

and experiences with animals. The goal of the seminar is to create a

polyphonic tableau of our relationships with animals and to place it in

an aesthetic-theoretical context. We are especially interested in

aesthetic ways of coexistence, cohabitation and conviviality.

The students are requested to bring examples (images, photos,

objects, animals…) of their interest into the first lession.


• The students learn to know seminal texts of cultural animal studies

• They learn to know innovative aesthetic approaches

• They can analyze works from art, design and film

• They can place their own artistic activities in the context of the topic

and point out the references

• Students will be able to formulate their own perspective on the topic



Berger, John: Why look at animals, from: About Looking (1977),

Despret, Vinciane: What Would Animals Say If We Asked the Right

Questions? University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota 2016

Haraway, Donna: When Species Meet. University of Minnesota

Press, Minneapolis 2007