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.

April 5, 2017

April 5, 1978

An interesting article in Artspace mentions Darren Bader (April 5, 1978). It is about using live animals in art.

Here is a picture from the article.

A feline performer from Darren Bader's 2012 "Images" show at MoMA PS1
The article begins with a phony intellectual hook:

When is a cat a work of art? Though it may seem little more than the latest and perhaps most radical attempt to extend the definition of “readymade” to all of life, presenting live animals as art is actually something of a classic conceptual strategy at this point. Ever since such Dadaist exploits as Salvador DalĂ­’s 1938 proto-installation Rainy Taxi (Mannequin Rotting in a Taxi-Cab), which included live snails and plants watered through the roof of a converted cab, artists from a variety of movements and styles have repeatedly taken up the live animal as both a performer and subject—in the process provoking questions of ethics as well as presenting fundamental challenges in presentation, documentation, and archivization. (Not to mention the issue of installing a live animal above your couch.) Recently, however, artists like Pierre Huyghe and Darren Bader have been exploring this gesture in novel ways—making for a ripe moment to revisit some of the most influential works of “animal art” from the past century......

Elsewhere we note a
 relevant point from an earlier show Bader  made:

During his 2011 show at Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York, Bader released a statement explaining why his attempt to feature cats in the gallery hadn’t worked out: the artist realized they wouldn’t get along with the goats that would be wandering through one of his characteristically tidy arrays of incompatible objects. ‘Some instinctual cat thing,’ he wrote, ‘cat predator, goat prey.’ The notice turned into a Public Service Announcement for the adorably named East Village cat shelter Social Tees – and any cat you adopted would be a Bader artwork. Aww-inducing, in a weird sort of way.

Sure, he's a nice guy. Doesn't make him an artist. The problem with the use of live or recently so animals in productions called art is 1-- the animals are, at best, being inconvenienced and 2. rearrangement in itself does not indicate something novel or artistic is created.  These artworks with animals point to the intellectual poverty of some strains of modernity.

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