An Urban Bestiary

14 May 2016

Event times

4 to 6pm

Cost of entry


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Tenderpixel Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Near Leicester Square Underground
  • Five minutes from Charing Cross Station
Directions via Google Maps Directions via Citymapper
Event map


This event is part of the series 'Spatial Practices and the Urban Commons'.

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An Urban Bestiary with Sabel Gavaldon

Animals are powerful attractors that collect the hopes, anxieties, and interests of collectives. The histories of many species living among us are tied to the transformations brought on by the industrial revolution and the emergence of new minorities invented in the 19th Century. From then on, urban wildlife and pest control are involved in an intimate relationship with urban planning and the administration of prostitution, pathology, and political agitation. This bestiary will explore the manifold ways in which urban life is entangled with the biopolitical histories of all kinds of animals, from the role played by mosquitos in enforcing spatial segregation in Congolese cities under colonial rule, to the co-evolution of French bulldogs and lesbians in 19th-Century Paris, to the Occupy protesters being portrayed as parasites by the Daily Mail. Opportunistic species including rats, pigeons, flies, bedbugs, and cockroaches thrive in the interstices of the city, despite being universally shunned by humanity — a testament to irrepressible life, reappropriating hostile terrain. These animals are powerful biopolitical figures, which have played an instrumental role in the control of human populations. And yet, it is time to regard them as biocultural companions, ready to yoke unlikely partners into new ways of surviving together.

Sabel Gavaldon is an independent curator and researcher based in London. Recent projects include Axolotlism, at Nogueras Blanchard, Madrid (2015); M/Other Tongue, at Tenderpixel, London (2015); Llocs comuns at Can Felipa, Barcelona (2014); and A Museum of Gesture, at La Capella, Barcelona (2013). At present, he is co-organising the curatorial laboratory, Komisario Berriak, within the San Sebastian European Capital of Culture programme 2016.


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