Unnatural Encounters

Unknown, Boy with owls, c. 1911, photo postcard.

Unknown, Person riding camel, c. 1908, photo postcard.

Unknown, Performing bear, c. 1910, photo postcard.

Unknown, Man with dog, c. 1908, photo postcard.

All images are part of an online exhibition at Luminous Lint; they are also included in Robert Bogdan and Arnold Arluke’s recent book, Beauty and the Beast: Human-Animal Relations as Revealed in Real Photo Postcards, 1905-1935 (Syracuse University Press, 2010). As the authors write,

“[t]his exhibit is the result of a book project in which we used real photo postcards to explore the relationship between humans and animals, 1905-1935. It was during this period that both photo postcards were most popular and Americans experienced profound changes that altered their connection with animals. America was in transition from being predominately rural to a country dominated by cities, from a society where everyday contact with a variety of animals was common to one in which such contact was limited. Cars and trucks replaced horses. Viewing animals, other than pets, came to be done mainly in circuses, zoos and in the movies not in peoples’ own backyards. Food production became industrialized making the animals that are the source of our produce almost invisible. Our book documents the range of roles animals played from pets to vermin. We look at live as well as dead creatures, real as well as fantasy, loved and hated. We explore the contradictions, dualisms and paradoxes of our connection to animals, illustrating how animals were distanced and embraced, commoditized and anthropomorphized.”

4 thoughts on “Unnatural Encounters

  1. This is just going to be one of those, ‘you have a lovely and beautiful blog’ comments. I hope to return to admire it again. I will have to look out for this book in the meantime I will look at Luminous Lint’s online exhibition – thank you for this and the link.

    regards, Joanna

  2. Hi Marion!
    Not sure if you will remember me from various surrealist conferences..? I really like your blog as a research tool. Curious and fascinating. Hope you are very well.

    • Hi Catriona, thanks for your comment. Of course I remember – although I haven’t been to one of those for ages… Hope your PhD and everything else is going well. Marion

  3. Hello!

    I believe that one of these postcards is a hoax. “Unknown, Performing bear, c. 1910, photo postcard” appears to be a human in a bearskin. But I must admit it was very well done for 101 years ago!!

    Matt Brady
    Bear Puppeteer/ Impersonator

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