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Review: 'Furries: Enacting Animal Anthropomorphism', by Carmen Dobre

Edited by GreenReaper as of Wed 4 May 2016 - 18:12
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'Furries', by CarmenDobre

Furries gives a candid commentary that reveals details about 'fursuits', 'fursonas' and the 'furry fandom'. Award winning photographer Carmen Dobre continues her examination of 'furries', who they are and how they perceive themselves. Documentary style portraits alongside one-to-one interviews reveal the intriguing passions of people whose human identity is challenged by their love of their chosen animal persona/fursona. The first colour illustrated book featuring an international cross-section of individuals who choose to dress as animals and why. (blurb)

Leave it to Academia to get it almost but not quite right. Furry fandom is about more than just the furry lifestylers, of course, but this artistic collection of photo-interviews with fifteen fursuiters (and their mates) does get all genuine furry lifestylers. Each portrait identifies the British, Dutch, French, or German lifestyler in an average of two pages of text, followed by eight pages of beautifully-posed full-colour photographs; two of the fan posed in his home or apartment, a closeup or two of his fursuit, and four or five of his messy home. Most of the fursuiters look like typical college students living in batchelor apartments, including those married and long out of college.

Plymouth, Devon, UK, University of Plymouth Press, October 2012, trade paperback £17 (150 [+ 2] pages; illustrated). Foreword by Valerie Reardon.

Baekho is 24-years-old, lives in London and works as a chemical engineer. He became a furry in July 2006, but he joined the online community two years ago. He attended his first furmeet two and a half years ago. His fursona is a white tiger with some green hair and tipped tail. Green is his favourite colour. He constructed his fursona based on some characteristics which he thinks he he shares with felines, namely languor and enjoying solitude. […] (p. 40)

Carmen Dobre 360° photograph of TimduruSome of the text is so straight-faced and simplified that it is almost amusing.

Timduru does not believe the fursuit walk [at furmeets around Paris] has political significance in seeking recognition from the general public.” (p. 33)

Does any fursuit walk?

Noodles has never faced instances of discrimination directed at him for being a fur. […] He thinks such expectations are based on the fact that fursuiting is an unusual hobby and things that are not known are regarded with suspicion. Moreover, the media created a negative image of the furry community by associating all members with fetishistic practices. (p. 133)

Oh, we could tell you …

Furries: Enacting Animal Anthropomorphism is an attractive, almost vest-pocket (21.2 x 14.4 x 1.4 cm) paperback. It sometimes gets too arty, with white text on a powder-blue background and vice-versa, and it gives a misleading picture of furry fandom with its concentration on just the lifestylers. But on the whole, it is a worthwhile purchase, if only for its photographs of northern European furry lifestylers in their native habitats.

Carmen Dobre is:

A Romanian documentary photographer with a background in philology and cultural studies, her primary interest is researching western societal practices which result from group community or individual experience of dominant ideological trends and from negotiating identities and status within these.

She has Masters' degrees in cultural studies (University of Bucharest) and photographic studies (Leiden), and is in the Ph.D. program at the Bucharest National University of Arts.

In 2010, Carmen Dobre was a winner of the national phase of the Henkel Art Award for Central and Eastern Europe and she was awarded artistic residencies by the Romanian Cultural Institute in London, FOTONOW (Community Interest Company) in Plymouth, U.K., and the Romanian Cultural Institute in Paris.

Her photographs of fursuiters led to a 2010 gallery exhibition, “Furbook”, in Paris. (p. 150)

Read more: Photographer Carmen Dobre seeks insights into furries via 360° home panoramas


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