Finnish artist Terike Haapoja invites us to imagine this posthumanism: a hybrid, expansive, empathetic “we” with room for ambiguity and difference and for interspecies political understanding, in which the morbid fantasy of human exceptionalism and the hierarchy of species is put to rest once and for all.
A heat-sensitive infrared camera films a horse just after its death and shows how the colourful thermographic image fades as the body cools. A political party proposes giving voice to “the other”, society’s silent non-human majority. A museum of cattle reconstructs and recounts history from the bovine ruminant viewpoint. Terike Haapoja, the Finnish artist and adjunct professor at Parsons Fine Arts and NYU, has spent years deconstructing the anthropocentrism of our worldview, exploring the political and existential boundaries of our broken social model.
Alone or in collaboration with writer Laura Gustafsson, Terike Haapoja appropriates and subverts the structures and idioms of established institutions – museums, political parties, courts – and uses their authority and cultural weight to question entrenched notions of animalisation and otherness, in an attempt to find ethical ways to coexist with nonhuman beings.
Drawing on concepts such as Syl Ko’s black veganism, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka’s expanded theory of animal rights, and Carol J. Adams’ sexual politics of meat, Terike Haapoja ventures to imagine a world beyond animalisation and distinctions between protected and disposable beings. Her immersive installations and large-scale projects highlight the convergence of racialisation and animalisation in nation states, showing historical and current parallels in the conditioning imposed on subhuman and nonhuman beings.
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