The Political Animal event, 2nd September 2017, The Showroom

The Political Animal event presents work by members of The Political Animal reading group and its extended network. This was a day-long event comprised of new writing, screenings, sculptural and video commissions, and live performances that reflect upon the conditions of interspecies relationships today. Drawing from studies on animal theory, biology, ethology, philosophy, anthropology and literature, each participant presents their own take on locating the human and other animals within worlds that we have come to call ‘nature’ and ‘culture’.

Part 1: presentations by Lynn Turner, Rosemarie McGoldrick, Filipa Ramos (remotely), and Melanie Jackson

Part 2: screening of moving image work by

Alexandra Anikina

Matthew Beach

Jenny Brady

Laura Cooper

Carl Gent


Dawn Gaietto

Olga Koroleva

Gui Pondé

Sonia Levy

Jennet Thomas

Part 3: live performances by Laurie Robins, Hermione Spriggs and Laura Cooper (collaborating as Anthropology of Other Animals), Matterlurgy (Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright), and Robbie Judkins.

Showing throughout the day: moving image work Elisa Noguera Lopez

new sculptural commission by Valinia Svoronou (click on the image for link to work, photo by Nat Urazmetova)


Event review by Anna Ricciardi

‘Setting an ambitious precedent for future incarnations, The Political Animal’s presentation of lectures, film screenings and live performance reflected a longer process of collaborative working-throughs to have emerged from the peer-led reading group of the same name.

Our attentions were turned to the iterative and performative power of language early on in The Political Animal, with lectures and readings by Melanie Jackson, Filipa Ramos, Rosemarie McGoldrick and Lynn Turner. Often, the rough edges of debate are worn away for having been pitched too broadly for the sake of a public event. Instead, here, the value of incompletion and open-endedness as productive space made sense of a broad spectrum of contributions without the need to dull opportunities for discussion.

After Turner’s thorough exploration of Kornél Mundruczó’s 2015 film in the paper, In lieu of conclusion: the ends of sacrifice in White God, there was a moment of confusion. A question was put to Turner in the Q&A where an audience member, having not heard the film’s crucially important closing dialogue, pressed for clarification. This mishearing emphasised how misinterpretations ask extra of us in times of attention deficit and instant gratification; pause for reconsideration. Hesitation – as examined by Turner – can be a response of generosity as well as of doubt, with actual consequences and possibilities.

In tune with the reading group dynamic and a guiding motif for many of the featured works, Koroleva’s film, with grandfather(which blends an essay by Hélène Cixous with a conversation with the artist’s grandfather), proposes that meaning is always in translation, weighting language, or its generative gaps, with a hope for reconnection despite its apparent limits.

Leaving loose ends to make our own connections and conclusions, films standing out as good cases in point were by Leaving the Crocodile, by Carl Gent, and I ROAM, by Sonia Levy. Though wildly different in style and subject matter, these were two films that appeared to share an interesting sort of pace, like an affinity for or conversation on voice, presence, and the distance of histories.

Likewise, in Gui Pondé’s Black Jaguar, where a black jaguar recounts his first experiences in London but turns out not to quite who we/ they(?) think they are. There’s some correlation between this human-animal identity crisis and Jennet Thomas’ anarchic Animal Condensed>Animal Expanded #1, where meaning is displaced in the radical disintegration of the nature/ culture divide, a new frontier primed for revolution rather than resolution.’

Photographs of the event by Nat Urazmetova (link)

THANK YOU The Showroom team who helped make this event possible: Emily Pethick, Eva Rowson, Natasha Tebbs, Louise Shelley, Charlotte Nourse and gallery assistants on the day Becky Buckman, Josh Wright and Simon Clear; Reynir Hutber (video documentation), Nat Urazmetova (photography), Jonathan Trayner (AV tech), Anna Ricciardi (review), and all participating artists and speakers!

The Political Animal event was supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.
@ace_london, #ACEsupported, #culturematters

The Political Animal is a monthly reading group set up and run by Olga Koroleva and is based at The Showroom, London. Since February 2016 a number of texts from disciplines including art theory, philosophy, ethology and biology concerning the relationship between human and non-human animals have been read and discussed.

This is a democratic group run in a horizontal fashion where all members of the group take an active part in setting further reading. For details on what has been read and discussed so far please see this document, where you can also find direct links to the texts.

blog and a facebook page are kept by members of the group where links to relevant events, articles and works are shared.

Follow us on Twitter: @animaux_group

In June 2016 Teresa Gillespie set up a sister group at the Temble Bar Gallery + Studios in Dublin. The group is currently run by Jessica Conway.

If you would like to join the London group or have any questions, please get in touch with Olga Koroleva by email. To join the Dublin group or with any related questions, get in touch with Jessica Conway via her website

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