|When Dutch artist Bart Jansen 's pet cat Orville was struck and killed by a car, the artist enlisted the help of a taxidermist and a radio-control helicopter flyer to engineer its posthumous flight (more photos here, video here). The “half cat, half machine” art piece was unveiled at the KunstRAI Art Fair in Amsterdam on Saturday.|
I saw this in the weird news yesterday morning and did not know what to make of it. It seemed to me rather sinister on the artist's part initially. Shortly after I read more about it and the idea sank in, I was less reactionary and more curious. And by the end of the day, I accepted the idea as an art project... After all, art is often used to provoke and the "Orvillecopter" has certainly done that. PETA is reported to have said, "It's a macabre way to honor a beloved family member." But I don't find it as objectionable as making an umbrella stand out of an elephant's foot or an ashtray from a gorilla's hand. Several contemporary artists use preserved animals in their work, from the well-known Damien Hirst to the lesser-known Polly Morgan. The difference seems to be with Jansen's use of an animal with which so many of us have an emotional attachment. Chinese artist Yang Maoyuan did not cause such outrage when he exhibited the inflated hides of sheep and goats. Jansen reminds cat lovers that "it's a tanned hide, just like the shoes you're wearing." But then he anthropomorphizes the cat, remarking that flying is the greatest goal a cat could reach. “Oh how he loved birds,” says Jansen. "Yes, but to eat," thinks Quigley.