Guest Talk - María Antonia González Valerio, México City

Mexican philosopher María Antonia González Valerio, based at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), will give a lecture titled Reframing the Question of Animality from an Ontological-aesthetic Perspective. The question of animality has been earnestly addressed in the past decades from a philosophical perspective. One of the main concerns has been to provide an immanent theoretical framework for an ontology that does not rely solely on or account only for the human subject.
Thus, animality appears to be an ontological artefact that enhances the limit from which the human, the non-human, and the world can be thought about and brought about.
However, the notion of animality is still too broad in the discourse; sometimes it could even be considered as a universal, for example, the non-human animal as the absolute distinction from which the idea of the human has been constructed throughout Western history.
From the animal-becoming of Deleuze and Guattari, to the cat of Derrida, to the tick taken from Uexküll’s narrative by Agamben, to the corals of the sensible materialism of Haraway; the animal is seen as an organic force or as a model that acts in at least two ways: as something that our epistemologies and ontologies should be responsible for (and therefore, our ethics), and as a different concept, level, or reality from which ontology is thought.
But, what is a non-human animal? There is no animal per se. There are places in which the animal occurs. For example, discourses, practices, and habitats. The animal occurs in the ontological discourse, in the practice of being eaten, and in the habitat of the city. None of these spaces could refer to the same “animal”.
And then, why the animal? At what moment did non-human animality become so important for philosophy? It has something to do with the emergence of the question about life in the twenty-first century, the beginning of biology, and the gradual narrowing of the general idea of life to that of a specific kind of organism. Also, there was a shift from the question about being to the question about life, and from there to the mode of life that is the one in which our very existence, our very corporality, is interrogated, that is, the animal.
We should also reflect upon the biological model that is at stake when humanities incorporate a mode of life (intersected from within the life sciences) from the central dogma and the modern synthesis in terms of genetics, to the new hype of epigenetics.
The biological models, the question about life, the space in which the non-human animal occurs, and the ontological artifact are the subjects of this talk, which will be debated in the light of current art practices that work with biomedia, from the incorporation of CRISPR-Cas 9 in art practices, to the presence of living or dead animals in artworks and art processes.
María Antonia González Valerio works in the research field of ontology and aesthetics and the interdisciplinary area of arts, sciences, and humanities, specifically in the field of art that uses biomedia. She holds a PhD in philosophy from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and pursued postdoctoral studies in the area of aesthetics. She is a professor at UNAM, Faculty of Philosophy and Literature and the postgraduate programmes in philosophy, philosophy of science, art history, and fine arts.
She heads the research group Arte+Ciencia (Art+Science) which gathers artists, scholars, and scientists together in an interdisciplinary forum that produces under and postgraduate education, specialized theoretical research, artistic productions, and exhibitions.
María Antonia González Valerio has published widely including several books, the most recent being Cabe los límites. Escritos sobre filosofía natural desde la ontología estética (México: UNAM and Herder, 2016). She has edited, coordinated, and contributed to various publications, and led research projects, such as Complexity and Natural Philosophy at the Intersection of Art and Science, hosted at the UNAM Faculty of Philosophy and Literature.
The Guest Lecture Series of Professor Ingeborg Reichle’s lecture Speculative Biologies: New Directions in Art & Biotechnology is an informative and stimulating opportunity to hear from distinguished artists about what’s going on in the emerging fields of bioart, biodesign and speculative biology and also helps our students to build their network of contacts. Speculating about how “life” and “nature” could be in the near future is an apposite cross-disciplinary approach to collectively rethink how we want our future to be and what kind of aspirations will be possible or even probable under the auspices of turbo capitalism and mass consumerism.
Our guest lectures are open to all.
Public Lecture
10.04.2018, 13:45–15:15 Uhr
Oskar Kokoschka Platz 2, Hörsaal 1
1010 Wien