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The Cat and the Whale (with a bridge between them, Alexander for A and B)

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posted on 22.08.2017, 06:01 by Melissa Deerson
This research initiates an investigation into and critique of human/non-human binaries through the process of fieldwork and the role of artist-as-researcher. In this research, I attempt to reevaluate the ontological centralisation of the human while still giving weight to my own body/experience as a human animal.
This exegesis is split into three separate but still linked sections about animals and some of the ways Western humans position ourselves in relation to them. The first chapter is about Mike, a cat who guarded the front gate of the British Museum in the early years of the twentieth century; the second chapter is an annotated version of a script I wrote based on medieval images of Alexander the Great exploring in a glass barrel under the sea; and the third chapter is about being inside a whale.
Much of the artwork and writing in this research project manifests from travel to see particular artworks or places of artistic significance in person. Instead of treating these objects in isolation or as autonomous works, I have chosen to embed them or bracket them within wider fields – translating academic conventions and methodologies through the personal, the fictive and the conversational, and foregrounding my own ‘voice,’ body, or an imaginative version of this. In doing so, I am attempting to signpost the structures and limits within which my own research resides in order to critique the idea of an ‘objective’ researcher. As such, I view my research as a type of poetic or artistic ‘fieldwork,’ where the researcher is not removed from her subject, but is enmeshed and complicit in its construction. I thus attempt to construct a form of critical, poetic (field) research, which extends throughout my work ‘on the ground,’ writing, lectures, performances, videos, drawings and sound.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Spiros Panigirakis

Additional supervisor 1

Kathy Temin

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Fine Art


Master of Fine Art

Degree Type



Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

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