The Project

This website brings together the many lines of inquiry that inform our film Bugs and Beasts Before the Law (2019).


Organized into five, themed chapters that tell the story of five different interactions between non-humans and the law, Bugs and Beasts Before the Law centres on the legal trials of animals and non-human others that took place across Europe and its extended colonies from approximately the 9th century. While plain in its absurdity, the aims of this historical phenomenon continue to be expressed in contemporary practices across the globe: in the legal systems that sort, categorize, and section societies; in the relationships we hold with human and non-human others; in the ways our cities are built; and how we have come to conceive of ownership and property. For our research, the records of these trials offer a starting point for tracing the grand relational knot from which humans throughout history have sought to disentangle. By interrogating a multitude of obscure and often violent historical narratives, Bugs and Beasts Before the Law uncovers the stories, the perceptions, and the taxonomies that shape our worlds. Our artist book, Bugs and Beasts Before the Law: Appendix A-L continues this work, drawing connections between systems to expose punitive ideology and the myriad targets affected by its gaze throughout history.

Before Law

This website presents the third and final (yet distinctly open-ended) form of inquiry and storytelling. With new and adapted works by artists, scholars, poets, thinkers, and performers, Before Law brings together practitioners invested in questioning the systems and narratives surrounding interspecies relations. The contributors to this site have each influenced the development of our own research in some form over the years. Their inspired works have deepened our thinking and collectively, their varied approaches are exemplary of how we might all attend differently. Before Law both culminates our research on the Medieval trials of animals and objects, and continues as a living archive—an organizational model of research and creation that unendingly probes the intersecting histories of non-human others and the law.

The site’s organizational model acts as an intervention into conventional systems of classification. By offering the reader the means to craft their own trajectories, encounter works in varied order, and discover the elasticity between ideas, we highlight the limits of Enlightenment-led forms of inquiry. Before Law extends this ethos of disruption and multiplicity when attending to the functions, limits, and aesthetics of accessibility. Widely differing in form, method, and delivery, each work on this site is realized for multiple modes of experience; understanding that our relationships, and the worlds within which we exist, are principally determined by what we can access. And finally, the site includes Voice of Before Law, a synthetic speech model trained using deep learning AI to imitate the voice actor whose narration is central to the film Bugs and Beasts Before the Law. Set squarely between the human and non-human, Voice is an audio guide and emblem of multiplicity that brings to the project greater points of entry and narrative possibility.

—Sharlene Bamboat & Alexis Kyle Mitchell, 2022.

Access Statement

Before-Law.com was designed with the desire to foreground accessibility.


This site is enlivened by the principles of Disability Justice and takes inspiration from many artists and activists working towards creating a more inclusive, intersectional, and accessible world. Throughout the making of Before Law, it has been our goal to activate the aesthetic potential of a justice-oriented understanding of "access as integral to the concept and execution of art" (Lee, Bunch & Chen, 2022).

Our approach to the architecture and stylistic framework of the site has been guided by and realized through collaboration with a range of experts: website designers and developers Other Means; accessibility consultant Josh Halstead; and the crucial feedback, testing, and additional consultation of Yvonne Felix, and Francis Tomkins. Each of our invited contributors has also taken up the creative challenge of imagining how their artistic works can animate access. Their openness to experimentation has allowed this site to present every work in multiple styles and formats.

Access Overview

Below is a brief overview of how the content of this site can be navigated and experienced.

  • Long-form texts, and text-based works with creative formatting, are also available as downloadable PDFs for reading ease and are compatible with stand-alone, text-to-speech assistive technologies
  • Still images are accompanied by captions, alt-text, and image descriptions
  • Videos variously include captions, described audio, and on-screen text
  • PDF downloads are also available for audio and video projects, and comprise transcripts with scene descriptions
  • This site and its downloadable PDF files can be navigated using keyboard, mouse, and screen reader
  • For navigation and orientation, each section of this site includes an introductory message. The play button appearing next to these messages, allows the text to be read aloud by an AI voice that has been trained in the speech pattern of the narrator in our film Bugs and Beasts Before the Law

While this list is not exhaustive, we will continue our work to ensure wider accessibility, and remain open to suggestions and alternative methods as the site continues to grow and develop. You can reach us by email at: [email protected]


Another Gaze

Another Gaze (Missouri Williams & Daniella Shreir) was founded in 2016 to provide a nuanced forum for discussion about women as filmmakers, filmic subjects, and spectators. In 2021 they launched Another Screen, an irregular streaming platform, streaming short-term programmes of films by women across modes of production and geographies, with new writing and translations about these works. In 2022 they launched a small publishing imprint, Another Gaze Editions.

Ama Codjoe

Ama Codjoe is the author of Bluest Nude (Milkweed Editions, 2022) and Blood Of The Air (Northwestern University Press, 2020), and a 2020 winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her recent poems have appeared in The Nation; The Atlantic; and as part of the series The Best American Poetry, among others. Codjoe has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York Foundation of the Arts through New York State Council; and Jerome Foundation.


anorak is a curatorial collective and an independent art space in Berlin run by Lukas Ludwig and Johanna Markert. Organized as a non-profit association for contemporary art, anorak is dedicated to creating spaces for sincere and mutual exchange, enabling artists to produce, present, and critically discuss their work. Since 2015, their experimental artistic program has been shaped by long-term collaborations with local and international artists and cultural institutions through the joint development of screenings, exhibitions, performances, dinners, workshops, and publications, with recent projects at Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart (2021); ACUD MACHT NEU, Berlin (2020); and Kunstverein Braunschweig (2019). In 2018/19 they were fellows at Akademie Schloss Solitude. In 2022 their curatorial investigation into the Cinema of Cockaigne was awarded a research stipend from the Senate Department for Culture and Europe, Berlin.

Antoinette Burton

Antoinette Burton is a feminist historian of the British empire who seeks to write histories from below that center on struggles over power in the human and non-human world. Women, gender and sexuality have always been key to Burton's work, which strives for an intersectional perspective that understands race and class as crucial to both gendered power and dispossession. Her book Gender History: A Very Short Introduction is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Bamboat | Mitchell

Sharlene Bamboat & Alexis Kyle Mitchell work with national archives and historical narratives to rigorously, yet playfully disrupt systems and codes of power. Their works are formulated not by order and rule, but by an unbounded narrative imaginary that asks who we might be if the script were changed ever so slightly. Recent exhibitions include Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2021); Kunstverein München, Munich (2021); La Casa Encendida, Madrid (2020); Mercer Union, Toronto (2019); and the Berlinale, Berlin (2018). Bamboat | Mitchell have held fellowships at The Darling Foundry, Montreal (2019); and MacDowell, New Hampshire (2018). In 2020 the duo were long-listed for the Sobey Art Award through the National Gallery of Canada. Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Kyle Mitchell also maintain individual practices in filmmaking and scholarship.

Donika Kelly

Donika Kelly is the author of The Renunciations (Graywolf Press, 2021), and Bestiary: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2016) for which she has received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and a founding member of the collective Poets at the End of the World. Kelly is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches creative writing.

Emilia Beatriz

Emilia Beatriz (elle/they) is an artist, access worker, and beekeeper-in-study. Informed by poetics and quantum entanglement, Emilia's forthcoming film barrunto reflects on grief & resistance in shifting landscapes of loss, translating bodily unrest, forecasts, or omens sensed via signals present in the environment; from military-occupied Scotland to the streets of Puerto Rico, from the bottom of the ocean to the planet Uranus. Emilia is co-founder of Collective Text, a collaborative working process committed to practicing disability justice and supporting accessibility in art and film through creative captioning, audio description, and interpretation.

Jeanne Penjan Lassus

Jeanne Penjan Lassus’ works draw on an interest in sensory perceptions and the porosity of spaces and beings, with acute attention to one’s own environment as a central work process. Through film, video installation, photography, and writing, she is interested in creating experiences from fragments that unfold in their own temporalities, reflecting on how our bodies sense, move and extend into space. She studied at Beaux-Arts de Paris and is based in Bangkok.

Ohan Breiding

Ohan Breiding is a Swiss artist based in New York. They work in drawing, photography, and video installation, exploring the intersections of trans embodiment, ecological care, and collaborative processes. They have presented their work in galleries, museums and film festivals nationally and internationally with upcoming museum exhibitions at Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland and at Oceanside Museum of Art (as a part of Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Initiative), both in collaboration with Shoghig Halajian, and at Frac des Pays de la Loire, Nantes and Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), Williamstown. They are the recipient of the 2022 Hellman Award, the 2021 TBA—Ocean Space Fellowship, the 2019 Swiss International Film Festival (SIFF) Award, the 2017 Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Award and the 2012 DAAD Award. Their practice has been written about in Artforum, Art in America, Artillery, BOMB, Hyperallergic and Whitewall, among others. Breiding is an Assistant Professor in the Art and Art History Department at Williams College and is represented by Ochi Gallery in Los Angeles.

Oliver Husain

Oliver Husain is an artist and filmmaker based in Toronto. His cross-disciplinary practice critically combines and cheekily confuses the conventions of video, film, visual art, performance, and dance to create visual paradigms that are playful, personal and astutely political. Recent exhibitions and screenings include Heni Onstad Artsenter, Oslo (2022); Silent Green Kulturquartiert, Berlin (2021); Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha (2021); Art Museum at the University of Toronto (2020); and Stamps Gallery, Ann Arbour (2020).

Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour, and Ryan Ferko

Parastoo Anoushahpour, Faraz Anoushahpour, and Ryan Ferko have worked in collaboration since 2013. Their shared practice explores the interplay of multiple subjectivities as a strategy to address the power inherent in narrative structures. Foregrounding the idea of place as a central focus, their work seeks to decode their surroundings and trouble the production of images through speculative narration and dialectical imagery. Shifting between both gallery and cinema contexts, their recent projects have been presented at Berlinale (2022); Punto De Vista International Documentary Festival (2019), Viennale, Vienna (2018); Media City Film Festival, Windsor (2018); New York Film Festival (2018); Toronto International Film Festival (2018); among others.

Renèe Helèna Browne

Renèe Helèna Browne is an Irish artist based between Scotland and Ireland. They are currently developing Rebuilding Urania, an oral archiving programme commissioned by Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Browne is 2021–2023 Talbot Rice Resident Artist with the Edinburgh College of Art at the University of Edinburgh. They are winner of the 2021 Sunset Kino Award for Excellence in Contemporary Film for their work Daddy’s Boy with the Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg. Forthcoming presentations include Project Arts Centre, Dublin, and Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow.

Renisa Mawani

Renisa Mawani is Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia, located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) peoples. She works in the fields of critical theory and colonial legal history and has published on topics of law, colonialism, and legal geography. She is co-editor of Animalia: An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times (Duke University Press, 2020) with Antoinette Burton; and the author of Across Oceans of Law (Duke University Press, 2018)—a 2020 finalist for the UK Socio-Legal Studies Association Theory and History Book Prize, and winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Prize for Outstanding Contribution to History. She is also co-editor of The Travels of Law: Indian Ocean Itineraries (American Society for Legal History, 2014) with Iza Hussin, and is the author of Colonial Proximities (University of Chicago Press, 2009).

Rupali Morzaria

Rupali Morzaria is an ex-architect turned graphic designer who enjoys hand coding websites and sometimes making Instagram filters for her friends. Her work is playful and iterative, extending from a research-based approach to image-making that is always curious and often obsessive.

Sarah Keenan

Sarah Keenan works at Birkbeck Law School, University of London, where she co-founded the Centre for Research on Race and Law. Her research and teaching are at the intersection of legal and political theory, geography and post-colonial studies, with a particular focus on property. Her monograph Subversive Property: Law and the Production of Spaces of Belonging was published in the Routledge Social Justice series in 2015. In 2017-2018 she held a Leverhulme Fellowship for her project Making Land Liquid: The Temporality of Title Registration.

Shahana Rajani

Shahana Rajani is an artist based in Karachi. Her work and research traces the emerging visualities and infrastructures of development and militarisation in Pakistan using multidisciplinary methods and media. She is a co-founder of Karachi LaJamia, an experimental project seeking to politicize art education and explore new radical pedagogies and art practices. She is an Assistant Professor in the Liberal Arts Programme at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History of Art from the University of Cambridge, and a Master of Arts in Critical and Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia.

Shoghig Halajian

Shoghig Halajian is a scholar and curator based in New York. She is co-director of Human Resources LA, co-editor of the online journal Georgia (in collaboration with Anthony Carfello and Suzy Halajian), and previously was Assistant Director at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE). She has curated exhibitions and programs at Centre National d'Art Contemporain, Grenoble; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries, Los Angeles; Redcat, Los Angeles; UKS (Unge Kunstneres Samfund), Oslo, among others. She has exhibited her video works (made in collaboration with Ohan Breiding) at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Sharjah Art Foundation; Haus N, Athens; Hallways Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo; and upcoming at Kunsthaus Zürich and Oceanside Museum (as a part of Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Initiative). Awards include the Andy Warhol Art Writers Grant and a TBA21—Ocean Space Fellowship. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History, Theory, and Criticism (with a Critical Gender Studies specialization) at the University of California, San Diego.

Sukaina Kubba

Sukaina Kubba is an Iraqi-born Toronto-based artist who explores narratives of cultural and material assimilation and appropriation. Kubba's work has been included in recent exhibitions at Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2022); Art Gallery of Ontario (2019); Glasgow International (2018); and Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (2017). Forthcoming residencies include International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York; and La Wayaka Current, Atacama Desert, Chilé. Kubba is a sessional lecturer in Visual Studies at the University of Toronto, and previously served as curator and lecturer at Glasgow School of Art (2013–2018).

Zoe Todd

Dr. Zoe Todd (Red River Métis) is a practice-led artist-researcher who studies the relationships between Indigenous sovereignty and freshwater fish futures in Canada. As a Métis anthropologist and researcher-artist, Dr. Todd combines dynamic social science and humanities research and research-creation approaches—including ethnography, archival research, oral testimony, and experimental artistic research practices—within a framework of Indigenous philosophy to elucidate new ways to study and support the complex relationships between Indigenous sovereignty and freshwater fish well-being in Canada today. They are a co-founder of the Institute for Freshwater Fish Futures, which is a collaborative Indigenous-led initiative that is ‘restor(y)ing fish futures, together’ across three continents. They are also a co-founder of the Indigenous Environmental Knowledge Institute (IEKI) at Carleton University. In 2020 they were elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, and in 2018 were the Presidential Visiting Fellow at Yale University.

Voice of Before Law

Voice of Before Law greets you in each section of the website with introductory notes and directions for navigating the thoughts, concepts, and works making up this project. Voice is a synthetic speech model trained using deep learning AI to imitate the voice actor whose narration is central to the film Bugs and Beasts Before the Law (2019) by Bamboat | Mitchell.

Who gets to tell the stories we know, and how does their telling change what we understand the stories to mean, are some of the concerns at the heart of Before Law. Voice navigates such questions by troubling the shared root of the words Author and Authority to explore the ethical dimensions of knowledge construction, the power structures that delimit identity possession, and the ways in which the tensions between fact, fiction, and parafictional amalgams are addressed in works of history and contemporary culture alike.

Conceived by Bamboat | Mitchell, with voice data from artist Sukaina Kubba, Voice is modeled by Resemble AI.


Mercer Union, a centre for contemporary art

Before Law is produced with support from Mercer Union, Toronto, and the Canada Council for the Arts through the Arts Abroad program.

Sincere thanks to Director & Curator, Julia Paoli for championing our work over the past many years.

Canada Council for the Arts

Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Kyle Mitchell would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts through the Digital Now Innovation Initiative.

Resemble AI, Technology Sponsor of Before Law

Voice of Before Law is made possible by Resemble AI.

Thanks to Co-Founder and COO, Saqib Muhammad for taking an interest in this project and for supporting a crucial element of our vision.

Other Means, Design

before-law.com is designed and developed by the graphic design studio Other Means, New York.

Thank you for helping us build a home for these works.

Aamna Muzaffar, Co-Editor & Project Manager

We are eternally grateful for Aamna's guidance and thoughtfulness; her firm-yet-kind hand in letting us meander through the weeds of this sticky project. Thank you for always pulling us out of the forest with your sage advice.

This project would not be possible without Aamna's rigour, myriad skills, humour & kindness.

Sukaina Kubba, voice data

We are grateful to the generosity and candor of Sukaina Kubba in collaborating with us to realize Voice of Before Law.

Josh Halstead, Accessibility Consultant

Thank you for guiding us through the accessibility needs of this project from the beginning.

Yvonne Felix, Accessibility Consultant

We would like to extend our gratitude to Yvonne Felix for assisting us through the accessibility components of the website. The intersection of her art and technology practice provided multiple entry points for us to think through aspects of our work.

Francis Tomkins and Sean Lee

Francis, thank you for assisting in the writing of all the alt-text and image descriptions, and showing us where the poetry can live.

Sean, thank you for your early advice and sustained support in navigating our accessibility goals.

Land Acknowledgement

The contributors and creators of this project are scattered all over the world. As are the cables, computers, and remote communication systems that house this digital space. We as artists and cultural workers want to acknowledge that these systems are part of a globalized economic infrastructure that cannot exist without the extraction dependent on the continued colonization of Indigenous peoples. We take seriously the material implications of settler-colonial conditions on the ways in which our practice is sustained, even in the digital realm.

While this acknowledgement is not exhaustive, much of the work for this website was created in Tio’tia:ke (Montréal), the land and waters of which are cared for by the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation; Tkaronto (Toronto), the traditional territory of the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and the Anishinaabeg, including the Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit; and the coastal Atlantic Northeast known as Lenapehoking, the ancestral land of the Lenape people.

For more information on thinking critically about the land in which you live and work please visit https://native-land.ca/