Damien Hirst’s riches and hype are credited to diamonds… and his formaldehyde-pickled sharks and bisected cows. For this, Morrissey says “Hirst’s head should be kept in a bag.” Using dead animals for art is indeed a sensitive practice with its own culture and cliches. Since Walter Potter’s 19th century taxidermy arrangements that inspired Radiohead, the practice birthed the Rogue Taxidermy Society, a set of ethics, grand-scale museum works and even a Chernobyl Chicken or two. The moral tensions inherent to the work provide plenty fodder for shock art and material for haunting conceptual pieces. Let’s take a look at a few and get conflicted.
Claire Morgan‘s Fantastic Mr Fox is taxidermied and poised among a perfect cube of nylon and fishing hook-suspended, lead-weighted pieces of torn black polythene… and rotted rabbit meat. The original purpose of taxidermy — to preserve forever — is subverted. Death is on display. And that applies to strawberries too.