We might want to ask, can the camera reveal the gaze of the bee? Lenore Malen’s film answers with a smarter question, or even a series of them. Is subjectivity confined to the gaze? Is it only by invoking the point of view of the animal that his or her subjectivity can be invoked? Might that not be an impoverished understanding of subjectivity? Indeed, this identification between subjectivity and the act of looking may be a shortcoming in John Berger if not in Derrida, whose text Lenore invokes throughout her piece.
–Kari Weil, University Professor, Wesleyan University on I Am The Animal
I raised bees for two years near Hudson NY until an allergy forced me to give them away. During summers I spent numerous hours sitting beside the hives observing them. When I watched them it made me think about our own blind animality, our hive mind. Someone wrote that the hive is like an enormous animal whose arms span miles and then retract. Similarly our world consists of complex nets of relationships, affects, and becomings. We humans parse our days into ever-smaller intervals of time like bees, but we don’t perceive it as such, but time or duration is at the root of everything we do and are.
This project explores apiculture and the writings of Jacques Derrida brought together in three-channel video installations and a documentary film on beekeepers in the Hudson Valley Region. The title of the project I Am The Animal is an homage to Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am, l998, which is a philosophical investigation into the way we have anthropomorphized animals and a plea again the industrialized treatment of them. In the films interview with beekeepers are intercut with historical and found footage.
I Am The Animal has been exhibited at the Mediations Biennale , Poznan PL. 2012, Wave Hill, NY, Tufts University Art Gallery in 2010, The Hudson Opera House, CR10 in Livingston, NY. and Emergent Ecologies (curated by Ellie Irons and Eban Kirksey)
Tufts Press Release (pdf)
Dreamlike Exhibit Throws Viewers Into Bee’s World
Meditations Biennale 2012
More about this project can be found on my blog.