Annotation: Beyond the World’s End
Chapter five, Animal Cosmopolitics: The Art of Gustafsson & Haapoja
Laura Gustafsson & Terike Haapoja, collaborate on a wide range of works dedicated to the non-represented. They create performance, installation, exhibitions and more in order to invent new ways to move beyond anthropocentrism.
The Trial, 2014 (performance) was a theatrical enactment and experiment comprising a ninety minute courtroom performance in order to address the question of the legal rights of nonhumans, commissioned by the Baltic Circle Festival and first staged at Helsinki University. The case was modeled on an actual law case in Kokkola, Finland about a wolf hunt. They are posing the question: why nonhumans have no legal representation or intrinsic value in real courts. To me, this is expanding on Vandana Shiva’s ideas on the seed’s sovereignty which ties into what I have been reading. 1
Another piece of theirs is: Compass, The Monsanto Hearings - Testimony of Zea Mays, 2012 (performance) performed in Illinois and Iowa. 2
As Haapoja puts it, “art and artists should have a far more central role in the society: not as engines of the creative economy but as creators of spaces where other worlds, other orders can become thinkable.” 3
The Party of Others, 2011 (installation) rejects the assumption that history and culture belong uniquely to humans, and by extension that nonhumans exist outside history.
Reinvents natural history institutions that have historically been responsible for maintaining the divisions between humans and nonhumans over hundreds, even thousands of years.
While T.J. Demos writes about several other pieces by Gustafsson & Haapoja, they all are focused on anthropocentrism: “Haapoja herself reiterates this point, explaining that the: foundation of violence” of modern society is constituted by that very “boundary”: “this undergrounded division between us and them, which enables the use of two morals, one for the first, and another for the rest - a division that makes it possible to push anyone outside the boundary and ‘treat them like animals’” 4 p.126
1. Shiva, V. (1998). Biopiracy: The plunder of nature and knowledge. Green Books in association with The Gaia Foundation.
2. For the hour-long documentary excerpting moments from the hearings, see Compass, “Monsanto Hearings,” accessed September 28, 2015, http://midwestcompass.org/monsanto-hearings. See also “COP21: Make It Work,” May 2015, http://www.sciencespo.fr/public/en/content/cop21-make-it-work; and Bruno Latour, “From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik: Or How to MAke Things Public?,” in Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, ed. Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005). For an interview with Nabil Ahmed about the Inter-Pacific Ring Tribunal, see T.J. Demos, “West Papua Conflict: From Genocide to Ecocide: An Interview with Nabil Ahmed,” Center for Creative Ecologies, March 2018, htpps://creativeecologies.ucsc.edu/west-papua-conflict-from-genocide-to-ecocide/.
3. Demos, T. J. (2020). Beyond the world’s end : arts of living at the crossing. Durham ; London Duke University Press, pages 121-122.
4. Haapoja, “A History of Othering.”
5. Demos, T. J. (2020). Beyond the world’s end : arts of living at the crossing. Durham ; London Duke University Press, page 126.