Zoonomia

No, that’s not a word I just made up.  It’s the title of an art exhibition being displayed locally.  I went to go see it with my french class today – a nice break from studying conjugations and tenses and subjects and objects.

The concept of the installation is a natural history museum exhibit on fanciful creatures that never existed – it’s sort of the “mockumentary” of the museum world.

Seen here looking like the last thing you’d see in a bad horror movie is one of the most notable pieces at the exhibition: a giant albino bunny.  This particular piece is 10:1 scale and was put together using 650 real rabbit skins and two huge resin eyes as big as my head, in which it keeps the souls that it steals from the blissfully unaware museum-goers.

The tour guide happily tells you that nothing was killed for the exhibit – everything was already dead; the French diet being what it is, these particular rabbits were probably a great many someone’s dinner.

When I asked about the internal structure of the rabbit, the tour guide told me it was a mystery that the artist refused to answer.

Residing about 20 feet away is the other main focal point of the exhibit: a 1:1 scale (or so I’m told) wooden frame model of a blue whale.  It would seem to be a baby blue whale though – the entire length of the structure is probably no more than 50 ft.

Another exhibit that was proudly touted before we even got there was the skeleton of a superhero.  This was what especially caught my interest (at least before I saw it), as I’m fascinated by the human figure, and no less by the skeletal structure.  I also love comic books.  It turns out that the thing was cast in white ceramic, and depicted the skeleton of a man laying prone as if knocked there by a super-villian (the Rhino perhaps), where he promptly died and rotted.  The arms and legs had been duplicated, resulting in a skeleton with four arms and four legs.

Have you guessed the super-hero yet?  It was Spider-Man. D’oh!  I had a hard time repressing a groan when the tour guide told us the answer with a chuckle.  The piece wasn’t poorly done, aside from the fact that the proportions of the body were way too short, ESPECIALLY for a superhero – it’s just that it was such a groaner that it took some enjoyment out of it.

Given that the theme is a natural history museum exhibit, various “artifacts” were carved out of wood and rubber erasers to mimic the weird stuff actually found in archaeological dig sites.

Other exhibits included: a rodent skeleton standing upright, augmented with opposable thumbs with which it grasped a miniature spear; four animal corpses where the skin had been removed, inverted, and sewn back on (not as gruesome to look at as you might imagine); a fake meteorite; a human skull reconstructed of pieces of ostrich egg shell; ostrich legs (plucked and spray painted black); and a small movie depicting the probable life style of gherkin pickles.  You can’t make this stuff up.

I’ll see if I can grab some pictures if I go back, or maybe I’ll upload the sketches I did while I was there.  Thanks to Nicholas for taking us.

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