Buddywolf, Rotterdam

Buddywolf, Rotterdam

The furry community is generally based on the idea of having a connection of identification with one or more anthropomorphic animals of choice (called fursonas). The fursonas are a mix of animal and human features or behavior and on occasion can subsume more than one animal. In all instances the fursonas are described in idealized terms: they hold positive moral values which are culturally attributed to certain species, such as loyalty for wolves, cunning for foxes or wisdom for dragons and they are occasionally endowed with supernatural abilities such as flight (where the respective species does not fly), immortality, time-traveling or inability to age. The main cultural influences that laid the basis for these animal representations can be traced back to pop culture productions such as Disney animation films or video games. This project is the topic of my artistic research PhD thesis which I am currently working on at the National University of Arts in Bucharest and it was developed thus far in the following countries: the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, France and Romania. The largest concentration of furries can be found in Western Europe and in North America, but with the advent of globalization the community started to spread to other parts of the world.
None of the participants to my study stays in character all the time or in any way thinks of their fursona as it is generally thought of identity. The fursona is not an internalized or naturalized self-representation which would enable the reenactment thereof outside the conscious decision of the subject. Identity proper – even if nowadays, after the postmodern/poststructuralist experience, can no longer be construed as destiny and nature – requires such internalization and a certain stability over time. The most frequent explanation given for the fursona identification is reenacting one’s fursona in a manner similar to an actor playing a role, in full awareness that one is human. This reenactment can be done by means of a fursuit (animal costume) or through role-playing in Second Life or other online platforms. Some informants prefer fursuiting (or even restrict themselves to fursuiting in some cases) as a means of fursona reenactment, while others believe it to be a corruption of pure imaginative powers.
A distance is always preserved between the subject and the object of identification. The deliberate maintenance of this distance is dictated by individualism as the dominant ideology in western societies. Following the theoretical position of Zygmunt Bauman, individualism translates into a constant drive for self-reinvention, with the conviction that one can be whom one choose. Since the value of difference is very much acknowledged now in the west, there is no wrong choice. However, if there is no wrong choice, there is no right one either. The individual who is subject to an individualistic perspective on self-identity will be always oscillating between the jouissance of choosing and the anxiety that he/she did not make the right choice. And of course this anxiety calls for making the choice again. Being encouraged to take advantage of one's freedom to choose often results in an inability of sticking with any one choice that might result in a naturalized identity. The distance between the subject and the object of identification (the fursona) relies on the ambivalence towards making a choice. In the case of the furries, the suspension of the final choice is facilitated by the fact that they can never fully embody these trans-species characters and so they can never travel the distance which prevents identification from turning into identity.
In this context, although at first sight we might perceive the furries as a marginal and strange group, their relationship with their fursonas is in actuality an extreme manifestation of the individualist self-fashioning trend visible in western, globalized societies in different forms and to different degrees.
The 360 degree panorama records without selection, it is de-centered and a-compositional. It treats the subject of the image with indifference, as if it were any other element of the spacial continuum. My choice for such an atypical format resides in the fact that it best conveys the idea of diversity turned mainstream in the age of individualism. A striking apparition such as a person dressed in an animal costume is in the end – in the context of the stylistic indifference of the 360 degree panorama - a normal occurrence, just as normal as the other ordinary objects such as household items, buildings or trees which occupy the frame.

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Carmen Dobre
5 years ago
Carmen Dobre Photographer
For those who may travel to Innsbruck until December 1,I have a project exibitit at Galerie Taxispalais: http://www.galerieimtaxispalais.at/

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