Marta Bogdańska: SHIFTERS
For her ongoing project SHIFTERS, Marta Bogdańska – a visual artist, photographer, filmmaker and cultural manager based in Poland – took on a challenge: presenting a history from the perspective of animals.
The challenge was inspired by the work of Eric Baratay, one of the most important figures in the (broadly defined) ‘Animal Studies’, and it triggered Bogdańska to start an obsessive mode of collecting and archiving materials about animals used in various public services in times of war – as agents, spies, soldiers, kamikaze and more.
Did it ever cross our minds to consider how they feel or what they experience when we make them our ‘agents’? Taking into consideration the history of animal rights and animal liberation, the artist asks: What agency do animals really have?
After a few months of intense research, the project evolved, among others, into a 14-chapter artist book. The hefty 750-page publication pinpoints the remarkable amount of exploitation and violence exercised on animals in recent history. The book literally carries the weight and the burden of animal labour.
Apart from the publication, the project also encompasses a 12 min long video essay. The film includes a variety of footage – archival materials, but also made by the artist and recorded by the animals themselves (by the use of a tiny HD camera). The video is accompanied by fragments taken from contemporary philosophical texts, discussing the possible collapse of the Anthropocene. In addition, Bogdańska also organised a workshop during which she created five audio pieces that respond to five selected archival photographs.
SHIFTERS was shown at TIFF Festival 2020, Encontros Da Imagem Braga, Imago Lisboa, Fotofestiwal Łódź 2020, Odesa Photo Days 2020 and Rotacyjny Dom Kultury in Warsaw. It will be also exhibited at Kraków Photomonth 2021.