Libby Straughan


Country of origin

United Kingdom



BiographyElizabeth Straughn

Elizabeth Straughan is a Geographer currently working on an international project jointly funded by the AHRC and NSF, which is conducting research into the process of collaboration between artists and scientists.  This investigation explores not only the collaborative process as it emerges in practice, but also considers the wider institutional, political and funding contexts in which such collaborations emerge.

Elizabeth’s own research has explored geographies of the skin through a consideration of three, practice based, case studies focusing on: scuba diving, taxidermy and the beauty salon.  Each explores the manipulation or alteration of the skin through attendance to the sense of touch and its capacity for emotion mobilization.  She has published in Science, Leonardo, Social and Cultural Geography, Emotion, Space and Society and Geography Compass

Research Project

The proposed project draws on Elizabeth’s previous experience of ‘learning to do’ taxidermy, as part of a broader study on the skin, touch and hapticity. Drawing on findings from this work into the interconnectivity that arises in the touch between taxidermist and dead skin and flesh, she seeks to experiment with and plan out a three-dimensional scaffold that mimics a non-human animal form, and to overlay this with a cultivated human skin.

What was discerned in the previous project of ‘learning to do’ taxidermy, was a certain ‘liveliness’ of dead skin and flesh that signaled its vitality and a play of affect between dead animal body and live taxidermist, wherein the former has the capacity to unsettle the latter and the latter the capacity to effect former.  It is this notion of vitality that Elizabeth’s residency seeks to explore through an inverted approach to taxidermy, taking into account a vital materialist perspective that is concerned with matter as the subject, rather than the object, of inquiry (Braidotti, 2010:201).  In order to acknowledge the liveliness of matter and technologies within her residency at SymbioticA Elizabeth aims to make the process of documentation central to her practice through the use of visual media.

Elizabeth’s residency at SymbioticA is funded by the AHRC and NSF and supported by the University of Aberystwyth and the Arizona University.