Surreal conjunctions in sartorial contexts: A testing ground for human–animal relations

Mella Jaarsma’s Dogwalk engages tropes of contemporary haute couture to speculate on the broader ethics of our engagement with animals. The catwalks of fashion might seem a far remove from animal welfare and more philosophical discussions around our being with animals, yet there has long been a rich tradition combining animals and couture. The history of painting contains numerous examples of fashionable aristocrats showing off their animals in Arcadian settings for picnics or walks. Sartorial display affirmed wealth and class. The inclusion of treasured pets in family portraits indicated a moral generosity that extended towards fellow creatures and could be read as a form of propaganda consolidating the wealthy patron within a broader world of affective ties. In a Europe in which political and social power was largely based on rural wealth, the embrace of the animal within these paintings signified the broader moral responsibility of the master to the living beings within his domain of care. 

Buy   or   Subscribe   or   Login