Animal Studies Speaker Series: Anat Pick

Anat Pick will be giving a zoom talk entitled “Film Farm: Kelly Reichardt’s Gastro-aesthetics” on Friday February 18, 2022 from 1:00-2:30 pm (ET). This will be a 45 minute talk followed by Q&A/discussion.

Dr. Pick is a Research Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and Reader in Film at Queen Mary University of London.

To receive the zoom link, please send an email to Will Kymlicka:  

Abstract: A number of recent films, including Viktor Kossakovsky’s Gunda (2020), Andrea Arnold’s Cow (2020), and Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow (2019) feature farmed animals at their centre. Each offers a different iteration of what I am calling “gastro-aesthetics,” cinematic entanglements between the alimentary and the visual. Gastro-aesthetics thinks through cinema’s dual impulse to look and to eat, to preserve and devour the world within and beyond the frame. In First Cow, aesthetic and alimentary pleasures converge in the figure of the titular cow as an image and as a source of milk. How should we think about the visual consumption of images of dairy consumption?  

From River of Grass (1994) through Wendy and Lucy (2008) to First Cow, animals are ubiquitous in Reichardt’s cinema. Yet while dogs display autonomy and agency, exemplifying Reichardt’s aesthetics of contingency, farmed animals remain—in film as in life—sources of value-extraction. The gentle sociality at the heart of First Cow and the film’s stylistic and narrative openness are subtended by agricultural-colonial practices that control and consume animals and indigenous people. In the face of Reichardt’s attentiveness to nature and the subtleties of interspecies relations, this first cow remains the film’s obscure object of extraction. Tracing the story of milk in First Cow I explore how films and farms partake in the domestication, cultivation, and processing of animal life. Could film be conceived otherwise, not as a farm but as a sanctuary?