In 2011 the French artists Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoît Mangin, who since 1991 have worked together as the art collaborative Art Orienté Objet, created a performance titled Que le cheval vive en moi (May the Horse Live in Me). In the piece, which took several months to complete, Laval-Jeantet received a series of transfusions of blood plasma drawn from the body of a horse. This essay considers the intensively physical dimensions of Art Orienté Objet's transpecies performance by reading it in relation to the concept of affective athleticism as it is developed in Gilles Deleuze's writing on art and sensation. It explores athleticism as a nexus for the performance's engagements with wider questions of animal-human (and particularly equine) interaction: gender, sexuality, and desire; biomedical science and hormone supplementation; and the aesthetic and political interventions of both “bioart” and body-based performance art. I suggest that this performance allows us to consider athleticism as a “sensational” and intensive mode of embodiment, capable of producing unanticipated forms of intimacy and affiliation beyond the precincts of the human.

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