Degree Name

Doctor of Creative Arts


School of the Arts, English and Media


‘my bovine heart’ is a practice-based research project that investigates the potential for contemporary performance practice to engage with the moral dilemma of ‘meat culture’. It consists of a solo theatrical performance that addresses the question of ‘cowness’ through the interplay of text, image and sound within a postdramatic framework and an exegesis that discusses the paradox of attempting to speak for the animal subject through performance languages. Framed by Feminist Care Theory, this research addresses the question, is it possible to (re)present the animal with care? It argues that the artist (carer) must focus their practice (labor) on attending to the animal (cared for) sympathetically, bearing witness to animal suffering, in the co-presence of the audience to avoid replicating the power structure implicit in ‘meat culture’. This research is fundamentally informed by my practice as a Sydney based theatre maker over two decades, exploring political issues through contemporary performance practice. It examines two other examples of performances that engage with the question of the animal, Matthew Herbert’s recital One Pig (2013) and Irish performance artist Kira O'Reilly’s ‘dance’ with a pig carcass, inthewrongplaceness (2006). ‘my bovine heart’ draws on Josephine Donovan’s Aesthetics of care (2017) and Maria Puig de la Bellacasa’s Matters of care (2017); Derrida’s philosophical thinking on The animal that therefore I am (2002) and Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of ‘becomings’ (2004); and Hans-Thies Lehmann’s Postdramatic Theatre (2006) and is contextualized by the field Animal Studies. This performance research project seeks to contribute to the ongoing interdisciplinary inquiry into the realities of ‘meat culture’, particularly regarding artists’ ethical responsibility towards the animal.

FoR codes (2020)

3604 Performing arts



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.