The We and I of the Bishops House is a guided tour of three paintings at the old Bishops House in Lund, Sweden. The tour is written and performed by me, with focus on the imagined perspective of the non-human animals portrayed, and tells the histories of the paintings from their perspective.
The tour is part of the research project Re-Framing the Non-Human Animal in Art Production and written for the 5th European Conference of Critical Animal Studies. Here you can read a short paragraph from the script, more documentation will soon be available on the website (no later than January 2018).
The Collective We and I of the Cattle by the Riverbed
THE BISHOPS HOUSE, THIRD FLOOR, THE 15TH CENTURY ROOM
EvaMarie is standing in front of, and with her back towards an oil painting by Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691). The year of the painting is unknown, the title of the painting is unknown and there are some uncertainties regarding whether or not the painter is Aelbert Cuyp. In the archive of Lund University, the painting is titled Flodlandskap med boskap (Riverbed with Cattle).
The Audience and the Curator stands in front of EvaMarie looking at the painting, gathered in a semi-circle. EvaMarie starts to read from the paper she holds in her hand.
We are standing by a riverbed. It is a slow and hazy morning, or perhaps it is early evening? In the background we can hear shouting from the men on the boats, coming in from a long day or hurrying out, they are pushing and steering their boats through the water. All day they are capturing fish and moving cargo back and forth. There are five of us. Four of us are huddling together while the fifth of us is standing just a few feet to the left.
EvaMarie takes two steps to the right so that her body mirrors the position of the cow furthest to the left in the painting.
I have taken a small step to the side to get clean water from the stream. Separated from the group by a few feet, I am leaning my head down and forward. Drinking the water. It is as if I can hear them clearer while standing a bit apart. They are all breathing together.
EvaMarie takes two steps to the left and turns, facing the painting. Her position is now mirroring the cow to the second left.
I am looking into the vast landscape, listening to the boats by the horizon, concentrating. I am swaying my tail back and forth. I can feel the warmth from the others bodies coming from the right and the wind stroking my left side. I am leaning my hip against someone.
EvaMarie turns a bit to the right, still with her back towards the Audience. Now mirroring the cow in the centre of the flock.