Academic Absurdity of the Week: Sheep Dip Anyone?

I know many readers think the items posted in this weekly feature are hoaxes, but sadly they are all too real. I hope this conference abstract from the Danish National Research Database inspires lots of imitators:

Becoming Sheep, Becoming Animals

Charlotte Grum, Connie Svabo, Roskilde University


As a part of a 2015 group exhibition exploring the history and local myths of a woman living in a Danish heath landscape 150 years ago, artist Charlotte Grum connected herself to a live sheep for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 5 weeks, turning the two into a hybrid relational assemblage, intra-acting and becoming with the heath habitat, the other by-passing human and non-human animals, the changing weather and their fluctuating biological needs. She wanted to explore the discursive and material effects of a site specific human-nonhuman animal intra-action, to challenge the gendered and anthropocentric reading of a particular historical subject and to explore the messy constituents of the very categories of women and animals. In general she is occupied with how to animate and perform the intra-active entanglement of subjectivity and materiality. The “Becoming Sheep” project produced a variety of visual and discursive material: photos, video, news media articles, daily auto ethnographic notes as well as weekly mails to Danish performer Tora Balslev and British feminist scholar Donna McCormack. This poly-perspective method was an attempt to generate knowledge on the methodology of a posthumanist performative practice. Continuing explorations of how to undo authorship, activate multiple subject positions and animate the very resources through which we practice and continuously become, for this conference artist Charlotte Grum has invited Connie Svabo, Associate Professor in Performance-Design at Roskilde University, to participate in a performative conversation. Svabo’s interest in environmental aesthetics and in new modes of disseminating artistic knowledge (Schwab & Borgdorf, 2013) will intra-act with visual and textual notes from “Becoming Sheep” in a live exploration of the methodological complexities of posthuman performance. Engaging with matter and producing knowledge on mattering itself seems to call for multiple mediated modes of dissemination, embodying the complexities of becoming.

So there you have it. Next time you find a rancher or sheepherder in a, um, . . . compromising position, expect him to say that he was just  engaging in “a hybrid relational assemblage.” I just hope they skip the “dissemination” part.

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