This summer, Meghan Considine–the 2020-2021 O’Brien Curatorial Fellow–returns to WAM via the exhibition Why Look at Animals? Through a selection of varied images from the Weisman’s collection, Considine challenges the conventionally romanticized and infantilized perspective of animal life in order to reveal a millennia-old intimacy between “us” (humans) and “them” (animals).
The exhibition takes its title from the critic John Berger’s essay, now nearly fifty years old, which compellingly argues that the alienating qualities of modern capitalism render emotive and spiritual proximity between humans and animals unrecognizable. Although industrialization has distanced us, humankind remains transfixed by the array of animals with whom we share planet Earth and by whom we continually chart the contours and limits of our own humanity.
Take Berger’s titular question seriously via Why Look at Animals?–and, consider how human actors have used (and misused) the figure of the animal to delineate the bounds of their own subjectivity and to explore what the all-too-human fixation with animals actually illuminates about ourselves, our modern world, and our place in it.
Image credit (top): Ricardo Block, Untitled (Isanti County Fair) (detail), 1979. Photograph, image size: 15 1/4 × 15 3/16 in., sheet Size: 19 3/4 × 15 7/8 in. Gift of the artist. 1984.2.1.
About the Exhibition Curator
Meghan Clare Considine is the curatorial assistant at MASS MoCA. She received her M.A. from the Williams College and Clark Art Institute Graduate Program in the History of Art in 2023. She was the 2020-2021 O’Brien Curatorial Fellow at Weisman Art Museum, at which time she worked with the Weisman's curatorial team on various projects, including her work as guest curator for Why Look at Animals? Before her fellowship at WAM, she held positions at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.