ABOUT THE BOOK
Captive elephants exhibit what biologists refer to as stereotypy, which includes rhythmic rocking, head bobbing, stepping back and forth, and pacing. Colleen Plumb traveled to over seventy zoos in the US and Europe to film this behavior, and distilled her footage into a video that weaves together dozens of captive elephants, bearing the weight of an unnatural existence in their small enclosures. She has installed guerrilla public projections of the video in over 100 locations worldwide, constructing photographs of each projection. Thirty Times a Minute (the resting heart rate of an elephant) explores the way animals in captivity function as symbols of persistent colonial thinking, that a striving for human domination over nature has been normalized, and that consumption masks as curiosity. The work sheds light on abnormal behaviors of captive elephants in order to bring attention to implicit values of society as a whole, particularly those that perpetuate power imbalance and tyranny of artifice. The presence of massive, intelligent, far-roaming, emotional animals such as elephants in urban zoos exemplifies contradiction and discordance, and public projections of their image onto urban walls and out-of-context surfaces adds to the layers of incongruity. Aware of the tremendous need to protect native habitat and its residents, this project contributes to the idea that sentient beings are not meant for spectacle or display.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Colleen Plumb’s work has been showcased in The Village Voice, New York Times Lens, VQR, LitHub, Artillery, Feature Shoot, and Time Lightbox. Her photographs are held in several permanent collections and have been widely exhibited, including the Portland Art Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography and Blue Sky Oregon Center for Photographic Arts. Plumb’s first monograph, Animals Are Outside Today, was published by Radius Books in 2011. She has written for the Center for Humans and Nature, and was a contributor to their book, City Creatures (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Plumb Lives in Chicago where she teaches in the Photography Department at Columbia College Chicago.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Hope Ferdowsian, MD, MPH, fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Preventive Medicine works with organizations worldwide providing healthcare and advocacy for vulnerable individuals. Her work focuses on the connections between the health and wellbeing of people and animals. Her book Phoenix Zones (University of Chicago Press, 2017) shows how we can foster resilience after experiencing trauma. It reveals how both people and animals deserve a chance to live up to their full potential—and how such a view could inspire solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. Marc Bekoff, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the co-founder, with Jane Goodall, of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and a former Guggenheim Fellow. He lectures internationally on animal behavior, cognitive ethology (the study of animal minds), and behavioral ecology, and writes a science column about animal emotion for Psychology Today. Julia Cooke is a writer and editor whose essays have been published in Lit Hub, A Public Space, The Threepenny Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, where she is a contributing editor. Catherine Doyle, author and researcher, is the Director of Science, Research and Advocacy at Performing Animal Welfare Society in San Andreas, California. Dr. Joyce Poole has a PhD in elephant behavior from Cambridge University and has dedicated her life to the conservation and welfare of elephants. A biologist, author, and researcher, she is the co-founder with Petter Granli of Elephant Voices, and has studied the social behavior and communication of elephants in Africa for over 40 years. Steven M. Wise is president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, a civil rights organization working to attain legal rights for nonhuman animals since 1995. Wise is an American legal scholar who had specialized in animal protection issues for the past 36 years. He was president of the Animal Legal Defense Fund from 1985 to 1995, and has written four books and numerous law review articles on aspects of animal rights jurisprudence. Mandy-Suzanne Wong is an award-winning author of many books including the forthcoming Listen We All Bleed. She was a founding Co-Editor-in-Chief of Evental Aesthetics, a peer reviewed journal of philosophy. She holds a BA from Wellesley College, an MM from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles.