Berlin, 3rd January 2016 // BIRTH OF THE KENNEL

 

 

 

 

 

                                             - I am not an animal!

                                                The Elephant Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Jens;

 

 

 

it´s been a while since my last letter. More than a month actually. A lot has happend, and I am not sure

where to begin, therefore I decided to introduce my laterally - associative thinking on different levels

of my process, which actually suit me most in this moment, to be honest. So today I am offering a pale

tte of some kind of Proustian croquis, strongly intertweened with emotions and theory, wraped in titles

that remind me of pop culture products, as if I was selling ads. ... what should be the price, I ask myself.

 

 

 

HOE HOE HOE

 

 

 

December has been challenging to say the least. I can not help myself but to let the collective psychosis

of holiday atmosphere reach into my emotional landscape, which hurts, even makes me cry every time

I look deep into the cold eyes of the beast. The ugly hybrid of consumerism and religious institutions 

that devides people between more and less privileged ones.

 

 

 

... thinking blasphemous thoughts on colonial and imperial processes of appropriation of assets, about

the slave trade, which manifestates particularly in the sex industry, which I am witnessing every time I

open the door of my temporary Büllowstrasse apartment taking Ada and Byron for a walk.

 

 

 

... sharing physical spaces of consumption such as museums, parks, shopping malls and cafeterias, with

out having any actual social interaction, using credit system as a radical means of accumulation by dispo

ssession, which I have been practicing for so many years.

 

 

 

 

 
A view from a Hybrid Family performance space @ Büllowstrasse // Berlin // Germany // January 2015

 

 

 

All those spaces encourage action, not inter-action. Isolation.

 

 

 

 

REASONABLE DOUBT

 

 

 

29th November, I introduced Ada to our hybrid family, driving a car down to Schwarzwald and back for al

most 20 hours because of road blocks and storms; stoping every three hours to install breast pumping equ

ipment, putting a huge pulover over the whole plastic cyborg-like tool on my body, driving further for the

next 20 minutes, feeling horny and depressed. Horny because while pumping, the oxytocin kicks all over

my body big time, and depressed because I am feeeling like an ultimatelly woulnerable underdog. While

experiencing short rushes of pleasure, I decide to make an experiment and economize my time by train

ing perception into rationalizing the whole process, by thinking on the theoretical backgrounds and layers

of K-9_topology. The noise of rational thought on intersections of my empirical and theoretical animal stu

dies connected with philosophy, have been actually increasing my instinct of the autobiographical animal

(as Derrida would say), which manifests as its very document in a form of our blog-diary dialogue. Com

passion and empathy have been welcoming side effects of the whole oxytocin molecular spree on my physi

ology and psychology.

 

 

A quite alarming panic attack woke me up just a night before I went to pick up Ada. I haven´t been feel

ing well on my way to Schwarzwald eather. While Byron was quite stoically accompanying his childless

human on our odyissey filled with anxiety attacks … and pleasure … every three hours for twenty minu

tes. All the rest was just fear. Of failure. … To refocus my mind, I started thinking of Derrida´s dwellings

on failure: everything that happens in the end, ….. a failure, a fault, a symptom (and symptom, as you

know, also means "fall": case, unfortunate event, coincidence, what falls due [ichiance], mishap). It is as

if, at that instant, I had said or were going to say the forbidden, something that shouldn't be said. As if I

were to admit what cannot be admitted in a symptom and, as one says, wanted to bite my tongue. Just

that I am not only saying. I am executing. I am embodying!

 

 

The root of my culturally based anxiety connects with one of Rosi Braidotti´s thoughts you wrote in your

first letter: ... motherhood has traditionally been considered as an automatic biological process, while

fatherhood is seen as a social and cultural institution that rules over and governs biological relations. I

am transforming into a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction by multidirectionaly exc

hanging the flow of bodies, fluids and values. With a dog! It´s scary while it´s poetic. Zoopoetic. Then,

all the sudden, I find a temporary shelter in words of Carolee Schneemann: My advice to younger artists:

give yourself permission. Indeed a great advice from a good mother! Still, it is hard to remain powerfull,

dignified, … above all, in control.

 

 

 

 

UNDERDOG: THE BEGINNING

 

 

 

Anxiety aside, taking dog-human relationship seriously, relationality is crucial to this companion species,

and ethics based on an onthology of co-evolution and co-emergence between humans and dogs, in which

none of the partners pre-exist the relating, brings up hybrid ethics.

 

 

How did this hybrid ethics appear? What are the reasons for its emergence? And why?

 

 

The economy of wolf´s existence is based on its constant energy saving mode. That is why a wolf is such

a good ecosystem regulator. It allways hunts only the weak (ill and old). Never the leader. It would be

too much effort to go after a leader. If we focus on interactions between nature (genotype) and nurture

(phenotype); each wolf inherits genetic propensities (instinct; also called „neuroendocrine programming“)

that lead it into situations in which it learns from its environment (Fentress 1983). Its genotype enables it

to solve ancient problems predictably encountered in the history of the species. Communication during

social interactions help fine tune these responses, enabling individuals to solve new problems and res

pond to the unpredictable nature of their environment. Several species, including wolves (and people)

have evolved flexible problem solving behaviour as an adaptation to the variation in the environment.

(Byrne 1995). One of those adaptations was to start accompanying humans some 32.000 years ago, sin

ce it would be less energy consuming for their survival. After dwelling into a human ecological niche, hu

mans have became a vector for wolves to spread around the globe. Their metabolism adapted fast while

they have been transforming into dogs, so they could digest starch (which wild wolves still are not able

to) and therefore they could remain human companions at the beginning of the agricultural revolution.

Once humans had learned to live with wolf-dogs and adopt the pack algorithm (pastorality dynamics wi

th other species, going beyond the close ties of kinship, learning to cooperate closely, and sharing risks)

many alternative ways to make a living became available. Within this process of coevolution, technology

transfer and diversification began to thrive. Humans became better gatherers, better hunters, more su

ccessful fishermen, gardeners, astronauts … Wolf-dogs became hunting companions, guards, sled pulls,

beasts of burden, baby substitutes, toys, food, human substitutes in experiments, and the first astrona

uts to circle our planet. As one of the consequences of dwelling in the same biological niche, several ge

nes in dogs and humans have been evolving in parallel as adaptation to similar environments. The gene

that has consequently – as a process of taming – mutated in humans, which I am particularly interested

into, is the one that codes for the serotonin transporter SLC6A4. Polymorphisms on this gene are one of

the key molecular mechanisms for humans to be able to tolerate the presence of others! It has been sci

entifically proven that wolves / dogs have been the key selection pressure for that gene in human DNA to 

mutate. However  -  in case of the absence of a human, dogs still posses the social regulation pattern to 

form back into a pack. With other dogs. Without a human. So I have been wondering (along with many

evolutionary scientists): who has been (more) taming and who has been (more) tamed during this parallel

evolution?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Human SLC6A4 gene carries the inscription for metabolic pathway regulation. It mutated as a consequence of a selection
pressure of co-habiting with wolves and later dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

DOG LISTENER, NOT WHISPERER

 

 

Many radical animal rights ideas make me think on Nietzche´s meditations behind the Three Metamorpho

ses on domestication which sublimates rather than supersedes human brutality. The result is a culture of 

feigned gentleness whose actual ruthlessness is matched only by the degree of its self-deception. … In su

ch a society, pity (and its public manifestations) is often the euphoric or ecstatic sublimation of cruelty.

 

 

Based on my own experience I can only speak for some dogs, but I´m pretty sure we should talk through

a Morse also with a horse, since domesticated animals, as well as their humans are bilingual. Together we

inter-communicate by using a language which is not human, nor is animal. It´s a hybrid one. A dog commu

nicates very directly if she / he doesn´t agree with one. If she / he is in agony, fear, anxiety, willing or not

willing to collaborate in any moment. Therefore I do ask Ada whether she agrees with me on our collabora

tion.

 

 

After pumping colostrum during the whole December, I finally got some drops of milk. The first one just a

day before Christmas. What an amusing irony!!! After waiting patiently, sitting on the floor with Ada and

Byron, she finally approached me, smelled the milk and gently licked those few drops as they ran down 

my breast. I got completely overwhelmed by this puppy´s amount of emotional inteligence at only couple

of moths age. And so it goes. Our relationship is a hybrid one, therefore nor am I her mother and she is my

baby, nor am I a canine bitch, breatsfeeding my puppy. This is when alinguistic unmeaning happens, so to

say in Agamben terms, an intimacy more internal than any closedness.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Byron & Ada / December 2015

 

 

 

 

It is very hard though. I (still) don´t get drops of milk every time I execute pumping, yet more and more.

Sometimes I don´t get it for few days in a row. Beside that, I daily dwell into a complex process of empa

thy, evolving intuition based on empirical and theoretical experience to ensure that the needs of my dogs

are respected (they are My dogs, as I am Their human), and that the understanding of them develops from

listening to them, from observing their bodies and behaviour. But nevertheless, in Harraway terms  it is lo

ve that functions as an ethical bind between the companion species – love here names the ethical co-emer

gence and cohabitation between specific, historically situated dogs and humans. Love does not therefore

mean a mere intensification of affect, or a more proprietarial form of possesion (as in the phrase, „I Love

Animals“) but rather a preparedness to examine the interrelations between my dogs and myself, between

humans and other species. I enter our relationship in order to listen to Ada and Byron, not whisper to them.

As Charles Darwin said allready in his 1838 M Notebook: He who understands baboon would do more towards 

metaphysics than Locke.

 

 

 

 

HOME ALONE

 

 

 

At some levels, my durational performance, which begun yet in mid October 2015 in an apartment gallery 

is similar to the one of Joseph Beuys and a Coyote with whom the artist shared a gallery space. Neither

human nor the animal was at home in this space but using the various props at hand and sharing space

between the human and non-human agent, was itself the artwork. 

 

From the cultural perspective, my temporary home - performance space exsists between inclusion and ex

clusion, for it has a status of Agamben´s exception (like a camp). And therefore every reproduction stra

tegy, within this campis at the same time a legitimation strategy aimed at consecrating both an exclusive

appropriation and its reproduction. (Pierre Bourdieu / The forms of capital.)  

 

However, in order to think outside the limits of thought - limits set by experts – I must break rules, trans

gress boundaries. Stability and order as I / we percept and know it only lead us back to exclusively human.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Hybrid Family performance space, detail 

 

 

 

 

 

Ada in Hybrid Family performance space
 
 

 

THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL

 

 

Byron has been helping me a great deal with raising up Ada. One of his most overwhelming actions is;

whenever Ada does something she should not, and I say: „Ada fuj!“ (kinda synonymus for a „bad dog“,

though it has a bit different meaning in Slovenian), he arrives immediately, no matter where he´s been

or what he´s been doing in that moment, and growls at her until she stops and refocuses onto something

else. He has been playing with her a lot as well. They play the prey game with each other. As in the wolf

pack where older sisters and brothers teach puppies complex methods of hunting. Sometimes I join them.

When Byron needs his space and / or time for himself, and especially when he eats, he growls at Ada quite

hard and with a huge effect in case she is bugging him. So we are parenting - domestifying Ada together.

Byron has such a great personality! Very neurotic and therefore sometimes quite a heavy maintenance,

but nevertheless, Byron is a dog with a huge heart and I love him beyond words. It seems a new family

member brought out his shepherdness on a whole new level! The three of us hug and kiss a lot, lie in bed,

crowl on the floor and jump on and of the furniture, but also scream and growl within our process of gett

ing to know each other, taming, (re)setting boundaries now that Ada´s joined the family. We are a pack

in which I am the alpha, then it is Byron, then Ada. This is our pyramid since I am the general food and

shelter provider within the human, cultural, legislative realm. However Byron and Ada are teaching me

how to set boundaries as straight as possible in order to protect myself and themselves, a much valuable

life experience I also appropriate in my relationships with people. A capability my human family failed to

teach me.

 

 

 

 

ANOTHER DAY IN LIFE OF A CHILDLESS MOTHER

 

 

 

 
 breast pump 

 

 

 

 

Dwelling on the physiological levels of my process through the discourse of molecular performance and

hormonal biopolitics within a collaboration process with Ada, by constantly repeating the act of pumping

breasts, and hence training my pituitary glance in very Foucaultian terms, I am doing the very same train

ing procedure with my body as the one in contemporary dog training methodology. I am transforming in

to a performer, by being very much inspired by thoughts of an interesting performance artist Kroot Jurak,

who has been executing performances for pets. She developed a theory by making a comparison of a per

formance artist with a petBased on the lecture “Artists’ Responsibility” — “Autodomestication” focuses

specifically on (self)education and pet training: A new kind of training NOW increasingly popular among

many pet owners: clicker training. This method differs from traditional learning methods in the most funda

mental way, namely instead of getting the pet obey certain rules, the owner makes their pet believe they

are in fact training their owner, to click. This new method has proven to forster new creativity and better

communication with pets. Now in power they act more responsible and selfassured but also becoming be

tter communicable and selforganized in order to attain their goals. Punishment and fear have been repla

ced with creativity, proactivenss and freedom to think…

 

 

 

So I have been executing a clicker training with my amygdala. Or is my amygdala training me, by letting 

me know it is about time to start experiencing these somatic sensations? Clearly the whole process in this

project has to do a lot with my so called molecular, biological clock. By soon turning 38, I am facing few

more years towards having a chance to have a biological baby. Allthough I want to have one, I still do

not feel prepared to have my own baby, but most of all – I do not have the conditions to choose. In order

to survive, I do not have the biggest capital within the zeitgeist: time! Not even close. Nevertheless, I feel

the need to experience breastfeeding, since I can´t have it all. I feel the need to inoculate my egg cell

with a dog sperm. Because I so much want to have it all! What a blasfemic neoliberalistic wish. Allthough

painful, writing this is at the same time very much liberating. To finally express the ultimate emotional

level of my many intentions within K-9_topology, while continuing to live my life full of paradoxes.

 

 

 

At the same time, meditating on our enriching dialogue, I have been wondering Jens, what is your persp

ective towards the institution of (hybrid) family, parenting, children? How do you transfer into the molecu

larity of my becoming? I guess the duration of my humanless solitude combined with canine non verbal

communication are starting to kick in and hence thick walls which have been carrying the last sense of a

distance are finally falling down. I am in full transfer. I am becoming … which makes me transcend into the

realm of beautiful T. S. Eliot  Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock´s ending:

 

 

 

 

 

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A big hug;

Maja