Salon 35 Dogs

In his 1998 book My Name is Red, Orhan Pamuk exclaimed that “dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen”. After microbes, dogs are the closest species to humans. We lament the lack of a shared language and think that if we could understand them, speak to them, listen to them, we could reach a superior natural harmony, but our relationship with dogs is defined by a deeper power binary. Dogs are treated as companions, pets, guides, workers, members of the human society, and, for many, also as an oppressed class of beings to whom basic rights are denied. In this salon, we will talk about dogs as a way to discuss otherness in a largely anthropocentric and unbalanced world. Considering forms of symbiosis as well as dominance, we will explore how and if humans can engage in a deconstructive process and design a better existence for and with others.

Some of the questions we will strive to answer: How does our relationship with dogs illuminate our attitude towards the natural world? What perspectives on the dynamics of dominance, oppression, and exclusion, can the human relationship with dogs reveal and how does this relate to contemporary ideals of the progress of civilization? How have humans constructed their relationship with dogs over time? Should humans be allowed to view dogs as property? Do humans grant dogs and other species enough rights? Are humans morally entitled to do as they want with dogs and other animals, to use them, limit their freedom, and train them for the purposes of entertainment, safety, spying, etc.? Is “pet” a disrespectful term? Does our built environment take other species, domesticated and non, into account? How can humans overcome their incapacity to comprehend animals? Can non verbal communication with dogs extend the boundaries of language? How can artists help recover the communication between human and animal as an integral part of a new, environmentally motivated social movement? What are ways for respectful co-existence? How can we decolonize our relationship between species? Versus / in relation to other species? Are dogs inherently the most domesticated or subservient species? Does domestication assume subservience? Intelligence, empathy? By what methods do humans enlist dogs for control, or even torture? Through what strategies and justifications are dogs used as tools to maintain power? Can a dog become a symbol of power? Of evil? How do we make this shift? What effects, if any, do robodogs and other roboanimals have on our relations with living species? Why dogs?

This salon took place on February 10th, 2020.


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