Open PEI seminar organised by Xavier Antich and Manuel Asensi

Gilles Deleuze already suggested that the question of the animal could offer a strategic base from which to develop a theory of the anomalous. He believed that humanity is beholden to this anomalous animal nature, and that rethinking the animal status could transform our understanding of what is human. In this spirit, he approached Kafka’s rat Josephine, Proust’s orchids and wasps, Uexküll’s tick and the Pink Panther.

Meanwhile, in his last texts (L'animal que donc je suis, 2006) Jacques Derrida attempted to deconstruct a philosophical tradition that has mistreated animals right from the very concept. By this, Derrida tried to show the fragile and porous nature of the supposed boundaries between the animal and the human, opening a field of speculation that was cut short by his death.

Rather than succumbing to the temptation of a sentimental ecology or an anthropoligisation of animal nature, Deleuze and Derrida suggested conceiving it as an anomalous, liminal phenomenon, not in terms of boundaries. From this perspective, this seminar will reopen the question of animality and the monstrous at the intersection between thought and artistic practice, as part of an investigation on identity (no longer identical or substantial) and community. It will also addresses the role played by animality and monstrosity as dispositifs of marginalization of specific social groups.

Josphine Clofillia "Madame Clofullia, P.T. Barnum's 'Bearded Lady of Geneva'", 1853. Missouri History Museum, St. Louis


Thursday 21 and Friday 22 October from 6 to 9 pm; Saturday October 23 from 10 am to 2 pm

Thursday October 21
Picking up the Thread

Anne Sauvagnargues:On Gilles Deleuze
Manuel Asensi: On Jacques Derrida

Friday October 22
Monsters as the Other

Pilar Pedraza: About the Bearded Lady and Other Curiosities
Jeffrey J. Cohen: The Promise of the Monster

Saturday October 23
Animality and Monstrousity in Question

Ximena Briceño: Animality in Literature and Latin American Art
Lars Bang Larsen: Monsters At Work


Xavier Antich is professor of Aesthetics and director of the Masters in Communication and Art Criticism at the Universitat de Girona. He is also the director of the MACBA’s Independent Studies Program (PEI).

Manuel Asensi is a professor of Literature Theory at Universitat de Valéncia and deputy director of the MACBA’s Independent Studies Program (PEI).

Anne Sauvagnargues is Maître de conférences in Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon. She is the author of Deleuze et l'art (2005) and Deleuze. De l'animal à l'art (2006).

Jeffrey J. Cohen is associate professor of Cultural Studies at George Washington University. He is the editor of Monster Theory. Reading Culture (1996) and author of Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages (1999) and Hybridity, Identity and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain: Of Difficult Middles (2006).

Pilar Pedraza is professor of Art History at Universitat de València. Her books include Venus barbuda y el eslabón perdido (2009), Espectra. Descenso a las criptas de la literatura y el cine (2004), Máquinas de amar. Secretos del cuerpo artificial (1998) and La bella, enigma y pesadilla (1991), and several novels and anthologies of fantasy literature.

Ximena Briceño is a lecturer at Stanford University. She is a specialist in museum narratives of contemporary performative practices and their relationship with contemporary Latin American literature. She is the author of Consuming Cultures. The Museum Boom in Latin America.

Lars Bang Larsen is a critic and curator. His curatorial projects have included the exhibitions Pyramids of Mars (Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh 2000), The Echo Show (Tramway, Glasgow 2003), Populism (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 2005), La insurrección invisible de un millón de mentes (Sala Rekalde, Bilbao 2005) and A History of Irritated Material (Raven Row, London 2010). He is the author of monographs on Sture Johannesson and Palle Nielsen, and the essay Zombies of Immaterial Labor: the Modern Monster and the Death of Death.

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The Promise of the Monster
Sobre la mujer barbuda y otras fantasías
Sobre/a partir de Jacques Derrida
Sobre/a partir de Gilles Deleuze
Sobre la mujer barbuda y otras fantasías