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Effacing the Human

Rachel Rosenthal, Rats and Shared Creative Agency
  • Carrie Rohman
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Abstract

Rachel Rosenthal’s complex and extensive body of performance work, spanning from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, often circulated around the human desire to control nature, and the concomitant quest to maintain a rationalist or masculine position of superiority through that domination of the non-human world. Her interest in humans’ ethical relationship to non-human animals, and in humans’ own animality, is in perfect keeping with these broader thematic emphases. Rosenthal included live animals and addressed animality most explicitly in her 1982 and 1985 pieces, Traps and The Others, respectively. Moreover, her 1987 performance Rachel’s Brain foregrounds the problem of the human’s constitutive imbalance, or the co-location of high-order cognition and organic, corporeal animality. While critics have discussed Rosenthal’s use of animals on stage with some frequency, there has been almost no scholarly consideration of her unconventional book Tatti Wattles: A Love Story (1996). This text’s illustrations in particular suggest that Rosenthal understands her creative process itself to be other than human, to be affectively more linked to animality than to humanity proper. Moreover, the intense animal orientation in the book’s images is accompanied by a powerful tendency to efface the human, thus ‘unmasking’ human creativity as having animal origins. In this respect, the Tatti illustrations reveal even more about Rosenthal’s aesthetic engagement with animality than her performances, which explicitly address the species boundary.

Keywords

Cover Image Nonhuman Animal Heart Shape Creative Practice Powerful Tendency 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Carrie Rohman 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carrie Rohman
    • 1
  1. 1.Lafayette CollegeUSA

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