Taxidermy. Such a strange art.
Stripping the skin from an animal and mounting it on a man-made frame is one of the more eccentric forms of artistic expression around and the asthetic results can be a little, well, odd.
But there is a humour about it all – a little bit of mocking of death.
Those rigid bodies, those bizarre poses, those fixed grins and grimaces are never anything more than decidedly dead.
Mounted for posterity those odd figures jokingly remind us that, try as we might, we cannot cheat death. All we can do is mock it and stuff it.
Until now, that is.
Last year, the wonderfully named Genetic Savings and Clone launched their “Nine Lives Extravaganza” service.
Distraught cat owners, traumatised by the death of their beloved feline, could now replicate their pet ad infinitum. Pet cloning had arrived and “Little Gizmo” was born.
A similar service for equally traumatised pooch lovers was, however, unavailable. Man’s best friend it seemed, was a little harder to clone. Dog owners were just going to have to be a little patient.
But now their day has arrived!
Snuppy (pronounced “Snoopy”) the Afghan Hound was succesfully bred (engineered?) by the Seoul National University and is, by all accounts your typical energetic pup.
The researchers at the University were keen to point out that the cloning of Snuppy was not driven by the need to provide a commercial cloning service for grieving pet owners, but rather by the need find cures for several ailments that seem to plague pedigree dogs.
Those annoying little ticks such as bad hips, bad eyes, breathing difficulties, that are the result of years and years of over zealous in-breeding.
Man-made problems, man-made solutions – a nice little circle I’m sure you’ll agree.
The guys at Savings and Clone are already promising to offer dog cloning services this year, so I guess the “ethical” dreams of those researchers in Seoul are pretty much doomed.
So where does all this leave the quirky little art of taxidermy?
Well, I suppose my question is irrelevant really. No-one stuffs an animal in order to try and cheat death. Grieving pet owners are not that likely to stuff and mount their dog and then put it on display in the living room (although I’m sure there are such people out there).
No, taxidermy is more of a celebration of death. Far from expressing a desire to deny death it seems more to accept it and laugh at it, and there’s a nice kind of fatalism about it all.
A fatalism that I think would be rather lost on all those grieving pet owners who apparently cannot face up to the reality of death and who fail to realise that such an attitude is nothing more than a mockery of life.