In collaboration with Riitta Ikonen
There's something queer about loving your pets too much. Having too many pets, talking too much about them, being too crushed by their loss is embarrassing -- even abnormal. The slippery slope argument that the next step after legal gay marriage will be human-dog or -cat marriage shows how queerness and animal-love are connected in our consciousness. Yet our love for our pets is all over our Facebook feeds, on YouTube, in the money we spend on animal sweaters, gourmet pet food, cat reiki. “Heavy Petting” is in sympathy with lolcats, Tindog, bears, otters, horsewomen, cat-ladies, pet celebrities, rabbit enthusiasts, and user-generated content. It is influenced by artists like Linda Montano, Carolee Schneemann, and Ana Mendieta, who transformed themselves into animals as feminist or spiritual practice, and who made their interspecies allegiances public. Through assemblages that merge human and animal, pet and owner, animate and inanimate, this group of sculptural, sound, and photographic works by Leah DeVun and Riitta Ikonen takes stock of our intense affections for pets.