Pocket Review: Artist Animal by Steve Baker
Whenever I would mention reading Steve Baker’s Artist|Animal, a series of interviews and essays about the use of animals in contemporary art, the response would be—almost to a person—“Oh, Damien Hirst.” Certainly that’s the first name that came to mind when I initially read the publisher’s blurb. In fact, Hirst gets only a brief mention in the introduction; his most well-known animal work predates Artist|Animal’s 21st-century focus, and his treatment of the animal form as a straight medium is also outside the scope of the book, which is largely concerned with the ways that artists and their animal subjects interact. Even when the animals in question are no longer alive, such as Angela Singer’s taxidermy constructions or Catherine Bell’s squid, Baker is interested in the relationship between them. The result is an interesting, often theory-heavy, but definitely thought-provoking collection.