Marcello the Dog and More-Than-Human Family in Elina Brotherus's Self-Portraits from the Series Carpe Fucking Diem

Authors

  • Tiina Salmia PhD Student, The University of Turku

Keywords:

self-portrait, dog, companion species, non-human, agency, family

Abstract

This article examines the possibilities of visual culture to open new perspectives on interspecies relations by analyzing self-portraits from visual artist Elina Brotherus’s photography series Carpe Fucking Diem (2011–2015). Brotherus has suggested that this series talks “about a failure to have a family with kids and give normality the finger”. The self-portraits can be seen to address this “failure” to have a normative nuclear family, while simultaneously questioning the desirability of the norm itself through Brotherus’s relationship with her pet dog, dachshund Marcello. The article explores the more-than-human notions of kinship and family in Carpe Fucking Diem, drawing on Donna Haraway’s concept of companion species, as well as discussions on new materialism and posthumanism. The concept of companion species deconstructs human exceptionalism and the boundaries between human and animal, and indicates that the physical and affective co-becomings between humans and the non-human significant others co-evolve with each other in complex and asymmetrical ways. In affective and embodied readings of three self-portraits and one video work from the Carpe Fucking Diem series, I examine how Elina Brotherus’s self-portraits call into question the normative notions of family as human-centered and heteronormative.

Section
Articles (peer-reviewed)
Published
Apr 7, 2021

How to Cite

Salmia, T. (2021). Marcello the Dog and More-Than-Human Family in Elina Brotherus’s Self-Portraits from the Series Carpe Fucking Diem. TRACE ∴ Journal for Human-Animal Studies, 7(1), 46–68. https://doi.org/10.23984/fjhas.99338