Exploring intersections of "the animal" & "the feminine" as an investigation of their reality: a poetic research project. Curated by Michelle Detorie. Send submissions/suggestions to femmeferal [at] gmail [dot] com.
Entering the tiger room, you see the violent act- tigers with arrows pierced into their bodies and there’s a very visceral response. Even though it’s completely fake, the tigers are so realistically made that the audience feels pain when they see the them. The pain is not in the tigers, which obviously can’t feel. The pain is really in the person who’s viewing this. So it’s through the artwork, because it represents pain, that one feels this pain and has this very visceral relationship or reaction to it.”- Cai Guo-Qiang
"HEAD ON”, 2006:
Glass sheet and 99 life-sized replicas of wolves, dimensions variable. Installation view at Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, 2006. Photo by Hiro Ihara and Mathias Schormann. Courtesy Cai Studio, New York.
An installation of 99 life-sized animal sculptures, including pandas, lions, tigers, and kangaroos, all drinking together from a lake surrounded by white sand;inspired by a trip he made in Australia, the artist Cai Guo-Qiang created a huge installation called Heritage, to gather around a swimming pool disguised as a pond 99 replicas of animals from around the world coming to drink. A magnificent work, presented at the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.
"I think the average guy thinks they’re pro-woman, just because they think they’re a nice guy and someone has told them that they’re awesome. But the truth is far from it. Unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations."
"Dr Einley explained that even if he caught him and brought him back to the colony he would immediately head back for the mountains. But why? One of these disoriented or deranged penguins ended up showing up at the New Harbor Diving Camp, already some eighty kilometers from where it should be. The rules for the humans are do not disturb or hold up the penguin. Stand still and let him go on his way.
Here he was, heading off to the interior of the vast continent. With some five thousand kilometers ahead of him, he was headed towards certain death.”
— Encounters at the End of the World (2007), Werner Herzog.
Dirty dove, I loved you even when you ate the heart of a deer — sliver of dark meat quivering on your tongue-tip, heart- ache wrought from the tip of your knife. The most tender flesh. That which you taste only just after it dies. Barely dead it bled to death still beating in your hands. Beheld: the doe and her fawn, the black hooves knocking the blue glass of the ice, the thicket lined with the fur of a hare, the circle of chalk where she stood just before she fell. Arrowhead — heart-shaped bird — feathers flared at your tail — that which guides you. One heart always seeking a place to dive — always seeking another with its same beat. For a moment we moved in the same breast — tongue-tooth to tongue-heart — heart mouth to mouth with all our jagged red teeth.
Thought of this old poem when I dug a feather out of the ground today.
photo of effigy mounds http://www.nps.gov/efmo/index.htm
After-Cave is also about how we are part of and separate from and rub up against the non-human world, what some might call the “natural” world or the “wilderness.” These words go in quotes because conceptually and linguistically they are made things, and what I am attempting to describe is the world that isn’t made by humans but is rather made or co-created and shaped by creatures or weather or other forces which we may or may not be able to detect or name.
The world of After-Cave is a feral landscape, a haunted place of shelters and ruins, burrows and houses, thickets and churches, mountains and factories, mud and schoolyards. Familiar and ethereal structures create incidents of habitat and erasure, wondering about the borders of the feminine, the human, the animal. In other words, it is full of mirrors.
The narrator of After-Cave begins by telling us: “I am 15. Female. Human (I think).” Right away she wishes to be known to us as she is known to herself and others, but she also needs to tell us that her relationship to those terms is uncertain, those categories and markers troubled. She is at the threshold of seeing through language, of knowing and feeling what is most difficult to say, and of knowing and feeling that what is said often hides what is truly known and felt. The parenthetical gesture of disclosing her own confusion is therefore a gesture of intimacy to the reader: she wants to tell you the truth.