Antennae Issue 11, titled ‘Insecta’ is now online. Please visit www.antennae.org.uk for your free download.
It is no secret that insects are one Antennae’s favourite subjects. In 2007, the publishing of our first double issue dedicated to insects firmly assessed Antennae as an alternative publication fierce enough to invest vast amounts of publishing space on ‘underground themes’. Our ‘Insect Poetics’ volumes are still the most downloaded from our back catalogue. However, insects still are a difficult subject: in mass-culture they are substantially organised through the dichotomic division between ‘the useful’ and ‘the pest’, whilst in the field of animal-studies they suffer from neglect as great scrutiny is reserved to mammals and other animals that can return the gaze.
The emblematic moment in which Jacques Derrida, emerging from the shower, found himself being looked at by his cat (another mammal), has predominantly shaped the methodologies and approaches of most of the past and current academic speculation on animals and our relationships with them. The main questions triggered by the encounter highlighted the presence of an insurmountable communicational abyss between man and animal. From this point onward, the concept of the ‘return of the gaze’, extensively contributed to the revisioning of the animal (mammals that is) from object to subject and more recently to ‘becoming’.
Discussing the return of the gaze in relation to a butterfly’s compound eyes seems however to reveal the limitations involved in this approach. Is the abyss here too wide and too deep? Are there productive opportunities involved in these encounters, exchanges and relationships too? In the attempt of bringing material forward that may be used to answering these questions, this issue of Antennae looks at some of the most challenging and interesting contemporary artists working with insects. The “excuse” for ‘Insecta’ to be released right now is Pestival 2009, “A festival celebrating insects in art, and the art of being an insect” which took place at London’s Southbank Centre this September. Amongst others, the issue also includes exclusive interviews with international artists Maria Fernada Cardoso, Jan Fabre and Cornelia Hesse-Honegger.
As per usual, we look forward to your comments and suggestions.
All the very best
Editor in Chief of Antennae Project
Lecturer of History of Art and Media Studies
Queen Mary University of London
The Open University
International Associate University of Canterbury (NZ)