Animals R Us
In the Window
New works by Mike Libby
Animals R Us originates from my interest in taxidermy, specifically, the resulting distortion the display of taxidermy characterizes. Taxidermy, as a form of wildlife representation, is an attempt to capture and preserve the real through articulated representation of what was once real (i.e. alive) in the most comprehensive and complete of forms, the sculpturing of the actual animal body or head. This process, in which animals are “trophied” or “souveniered” as wall hangings becomes a simulation of something that never really was and ultimately becomes even stranger and more alien than the original real thing. Eyes are exchanged with glass replicas, flesh and bone replaced with platonic fiberglass poses.
Kind of like going to an open casket funeral and seeing the deceased in the coffin. All evidence suggests that the person is your dead uncle and you recognize him, but no matter how well pressed his suit is or well-combed his hair, it’s not really him, not like he used to be. It is him, but not. This representational removal from subject is kind of the fuzzy area I was interested in exploring with this work; how a simulation is the thing it represents and simultaneously a model for the very act of representation itself.
This work also provided me a way to explore how we as a westernized culture mediate animal images and forms into products of decoration, entertainment and play as typified through lawn ornaments, masks and plush or plastic figures. We alter animal forms in perverse and removed manners, no longer building totem poles or objects of reverence but rather, saving money in ceramic piggy banks, bathing with rubber duckies and using plaster elephant bookends.
I find these observations curious and provoking.