Call for Papers Vol. 4, no. 1 - Instinct

[ARCHIVE CFP - Published in autumn 2018]

Membrana no. 6 seeks to address how and why does the notion of being human revolve around our perception of what it means to be an animal or beast – and how is the relationship imaged and constructed through photography. We are interested not only in representations of animals but also in the way in which this human-animal relation is ideologically enforced or subdued through imagery, and how the notion of instinct defines the photographic process as well as photographic representation.

Photographs of animals always held a significant presence throughout the history of the medium, a testimony of particular fascination and desire to either decode or ascribe meaning to the non-human. The sheer number and diversity of photographic representations of animals (and non-photographic pictorial tradition of representing imaginary beasts) testifies of instinctive relationality of the relationship – while captivating our sight, animals also look back at us as if questioning our very notion of humanity – as if we instinctively understand that we can only look for human-ness via our engagement with the pet, the wild or tamed animal, the beast.

Whether used as commodities for exchange, marketing tools for commodification, tools of scientific research or tokens of domestic familiarity, silent trophies from exotic places or city zoos, the images speak of a certain process of domestication of both a sign and a referent. There seems to be a shift from the old photo-humanistic belongingness of The Family of Man to the growing disillusionment of Anthropocene, where a certain demand for a new kind of responsibility, a new kind of not only trans-cultural but also trans-species belonging arises.

We invite textual and visual contributions that explore photographic representations of animals from (but not limited to) the following perspectives:

  • contemporary and historical representations of animals
  • animal photography and social media
  • photography and notion of instinct (e.g. photographer as predator)
  • scientific documentation of animals (Crittercams, photo-traps, camptrail cameras etc.)
  • fine art animal photos
  • nature documentary, safari photos, hunting and photography
  • photographing dead animals
  • taxidermy as a proto-photographic practice
  • self-made animal images (animal selfies)
  • animals ascribed human characteristics and vice versa
  • animals as a contemporary totems or status symbols
  • animals  and questions of human identity (totemistic animals, but also subcultures, such as furries)
  • hybrids, fantastic creatures and their ideological applications

Contributions will be published in the English edition – magazine Membrana (ISSN 2463-8501) as well as in the Slovenian edition – magazine Fotografija (ISSN 1408-3566).

Proposals and deadlines

Please contact the editors at The deadline for contribution proposals (150-word abstracts and/or visuals) is 18.1.2019. The deadline for finished contributions from accepted proposals is 20 March 2019.