Australasian Animal Studies Association

Chimeric portrait (number 5), 2009, digital print, 30.5 x 50.1 cm


Chimeric portraits
In these works anonymous staff/students at the School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Murdoch University, Western Australia, were interviewed about their work and studies, their contact with animals and their private goals and dreams. Digital chimeric portraits were then made. The works were hung opposite four photographs of workplaces so that viewers attempted to puzzle out which office belonged to which person. The main point of the work was to make evident the affective connections between members of the veterinary profession and the nonhuman world.


Perdita Phillips is an Australian artist with a wide-ranging and experimental conceptual practice. She works in mixed media installation, environmental projects, sound, sculpture, photography, and drawing. Whilst materially diverse, underlying themes of ecological processes and a commitment to a resensitisation to the physical environment, are apparent.

Referencing different schema of natural history representation her work highlights the uneasy relationships between factual texts and fictions that are at the heart of art-science investigations. Biological systems are presented and then undermined with unlikely annotations, interpositions and decompositions. She has worked with minerals, landscapes, termites and bowerbirds at the intersections of human and nonhuman worlds; conversing with animals and contrasting the wanton wildness inside us with the wilderness of post-industrial life.