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There’s loving your cat, and then there’s loving your cat. For an example of the former, see my Instagram feed; for an example of the latter, try Carolee Schneemann’s “Infinity Kisses – The Movie” (2008). The roughly nine-minute film brings together the 140 photographs that Schneemann shot for her Infinity Kisses series (1981–88), which captures her cat Vesper’s ritual of giving her a kiss every morning. But soft little kitty kisses these are not; they are “deep kisses,” in which the cat full-on plants its lips on Schneemann’s often open mouth. The photos have a deeply discomfiting eroticism to them, as well as a latent morbidity — Schneemann is always lying down, and it sometimes looks as though Vesper is preparing to bite into her (occasionally it also looks like she might eat Vesper herself).
The film version of the series intensifies these two qualities, with hot white flashes between blurry images and a jangling and droning soundtrack that seems to come straight out of Twin Peaks; it incorporates cat purring in an improbably ominous way.
Schneemann knew what she was doing with all this, of course. “The intimacy between cat and woman becomes a refraction of the viewers’ attitudes to self and nature, sexuality and control, the taboo and the sacred,” she’s written. “The images raise questions of interspecies communication, as well as triggering unexpected cultural taboos.” Taboos indeed, as the close-up, low-fi cat-kiss pictures roll on, making us squirm more and dig deeper into our seats with each passing second.
Editor’s Note: This endorsement is part of a special edition that Hyperallergic published on the ongoing legal case to return the photos of Renty and Delia Taylor to their descendants. * * * Your Honour — On April 11, 2018, The New York Times published a report on the differential outcomes for maternal and infant…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…