The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

June 21, 2016

June 21, 1946

This is "Büsi" in a still from a video which is part of the permanent collection at SFMOMA. Artist credit is to a Swiss duo known as Fischli/Weiss.

These artists were a team from 1979 til the death of Weiss. Here are the interesting dates: Peter Fischli (June 8, 1952) and David Weiss (June 21, 1946 to April 27, 2012).

SFMOMA provides this curatorial context to Busi.

One of the most enduring and endearing aspects of the work of Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss is how it exhibits their fondness for everyday things.

The video
Büsi (Kitty) features a close-up of a cat lapping milk in a domestic environment. It was originally exhibited on an oversized video screen in New York's Times Square as part of a public art program, The 59th Minute: Video Art on the Times Square Astrovision. Given that this public space is usually reserved for slick commercials and news programming, it was an incongruous setting for a video of a cat deciding to pause for something to drink.

While the lush, high-definition quality of the Büsi video suggests a commercial for a pet product, the lack of a soundtrack, deliberate overexposure, and slapdash framing give the work the look of an amateur video of a family pet. By simply changing the frame of reference, by restaging the commonplace within the landscape of art and/or commerce, Fischli and Weiss make the ordinary seem extraordinary.

Artwork Info

Artwork title:  Büsi (Kitty) 

Artist names: Peter Fischli and David Weiss
Date created:  2001 

Classification: video installation Medium
single-channel video projection, color, with sound, 6:30 min. 

Dimensions: variable

Date acquired: 2001 

Credit Collection SFMOMA

Accessions Committee Fund: gift of Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein, the Modern Art Council, Mimi and Peter Haas, Elaine McKeon, and Judy and John Webb 

Copyright © Peter Fischli and David Weiss  

And one beautiful thing about this masterpiece is that the nauseating aura of cats being drugged, even tortured (at least seriously inconvenienced), and ridiculously photoshopped 
--all for the goal of viral cyber success in feline presentations, is absent.

Why would I include photoshopping on a list of crimes against actual cats? How could rearranged pixels hurt a real animal? The sad fact is that most people cannot recognise an unnatural pose for a cat.  The result is and will be cats who are rejected because they do not fit into some person's unrealistic expectations. A cat without a home is often a cat in danger. That which feeds this ignorance is harmful.

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