Parallel Lives

2019. Paper, ink. 

Parallel Lives deals with the human fixation with the categorization of other species, as well as their own. Hierarchies underpin the way in which Western society is ordered and its members are treated. The entanglement of human and non-human life gives rise to a complex paradox between domination, dependency and desire. This is particularly prevalent among zoos, farms and museums – whereby the human gaze defines the roles and worth of the animals. In these contexts the same systems of power which lead to marginalization among human institutions are present. This can be identified as intersectionality: whereby modes of oppression such as sexism, racism, classism and speciesism reinforce one another. Imbued with human-ness, the parallel lives of animals are used as a tool for introspection.

This text focuses on language and how the collective nouns for animals have been used to project and reflect human institutions, behaviours and traits. By unpicking the origins, meanings and potential evolution of  ‘a School of Fish,’ ‘a Business of Flies’ and ‘Parliament of Owls’ an opportunity arises: to reflect upon our social systems through the lens of animals. In order to do this, the investigation delves into areas of interspecies relationships which are largely overlooked and normalised from the human’s position of power but which are - on close inspection - twisted and absurd.