Repair work: surfacing the geographies of dead animals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

An artist and a geographer asked the same question: what is a zoological
specimen and how can it be used? Considerable attention has been paid to the
‘finished’ form and display of taxidermy specimens inside cabinets, behind glass
– in other words to their representation. We challenge the priority given to
representation by getting under the skin and behind-the-scenes to show how
specimens have been entangled ‘in life’ as well as how we have creatively taken
part in their ‘afterlives’. These efforts are aligned with work in cultural geography
seeking to counteract ‘deadening effects’ in an active world (Thrift and Dewsbury
2000), and stay alive to the ‘more-than-representational’ aspects of life (Lorimer
2005). The paper documents two of our experimental attempts to revive and
repair zoological specimens and collections, work which was underlain by
observations of taxidermy practice. First we show how the creation of a ‘webarchive’ offered an expanded repertoire of interpretation and engagement for an extremely rare zoological specimen. Secondly, we show how a temporary
exhibition in a zoology museum highlighted the transformative potential of crossdisciplinary efforts to re-present zoological material.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-122
Number of pages25
JournalMuseum and Society
Volume6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • taxidermy, repair, non-representational theory, art-geography collaboration

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