16 UltraChrome prints, 30×264 cm
The furries are an international community of individuals who identify with an anthropomorphic animal character of their choice called fursona which exists in the imagination but also as a costume worn in private and in public. This was the topic of my artistic research PhD thesis completed in 2015 at the National University of Arts in Bucharest and based on a documentation of over 40 cases in six countries: the Netherlands, the UK, France, Germany, Austria and Romania. The relationship with the fursona is one of temporary identification and is completely devoid of political implications. The extreme instability of such identities as well as their fantasy-like nature stems from a capitalist valorization of continuous self-fashioning in which the constructed identities are depoliticized, highly individual and often intended for consumption. As Zygmunt Bauman shows in Liquid Modernity, the tendency of modernity to reinvent all established forms, to liquefy all that is solid, is harnessed in late capitalism as a drive to re-style oneself anew according to what comes up on the market. In this context the natural tendency of identities is to be in continuous flux.
Moreover, the heavily anthropomorphized rendition of the animal character, drawing on Disney representations rather than real animals, attests to a modern way of life severed from the wilderness and the radical difference of the animal other. The selection of the animals indicate a preference for either domesticated ones, having already been heavily anthopomorphized in our societies (treated as family members, sometimes dressed up etc.), or wild animals such as tigers, lions, wolves, bears, therefore creatures which contemporary people never meet on their own terms.
The 360 degree panorama is a decentralized and a-compositional image, treating the subject of interest as any other object in the field of vision. These particular panoramas are not taken from a raised point, as the early panoramic paintings were in view of simulating an immersive/totalizing perspective on space. Rather, they are panopticon-like, in the sense that the camera occupies a central position which is at the same level of height as the objects recorded. Michel Foucault interprets the panopticon in Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison as indicating an emerging modern perception in which reality was no longer seen as a whole but rather as an atomized collection of individualized elements. In this way the furry is perceived as just another element in the unraveled everyday space populated with household appliances, furniture, walls, trees or buildings, indicating that this kind of practice of identification is deeply embedded in our normality.