Animals in Environmental Art: relationship and aesthetic regard

Emily Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Earth, wood, stone, water, plants, light and other organic and inorganic natural matter and processes have provided the material for works falling into the amorphous range of contemporary art forms described as land, environmental, land and ecological art. Insects and other tiny non-human creatures have often played some role in these works, either intentionally or only incidentally. Larger non-human creatures amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals have played a much smaller role. In this article, I outline the different ways animals (broadly understood) have featured in these art forms and what sorts of humannonhuman relationships these interventions with nature express or embody. Given these relationships, I critically explore just how we might square such interventions with attitudes of care and respect for nature. Introducing animals into artistic practice brings with it a set of worries and tensions. Alongside encouraging engagement and intimacy with creatures other than ourselves, problems of aestheticizing, sentimentalizing, trivializing, manipulating and just plain interfering trouble our artistic interactions with animals. How do artistic expressions and interests regard and show regard for animals? These questions are addressed through a range of artists and works, including art and ecological restoration/species reclamation; trans-species art; activist/performance art in environments; and art in wildlife conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Visual Art Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • relationship
  • conservation
  • ethics
  • aesthetics
  • animals


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