Sunday
Aug102014

Natural History Museum Vienna

I don't read German, but these pictures from Vienna's Natural History Museum speak for themselves. See more at http://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/naturhistorisches-museum-wien-palast-der-ausgestopften-tiere-13084638.html


Monday
Jul212014

Life inside a bear 

Now, as you can probably imagine, I've seen a lot of things, taxidermy-wise.  There was been the cat-copter and the various head-in-taxidermy art performances. But surely this art project is the weirdest yet.  Abraham Poincheval is going to live inside a taxidermied bear.  For 13 days, the French artist will remain enclosed enclosed inside the bear in a specially designed compartment. I’m not sure why.  I’m not sure I want to ask. 

The performance was at the Musée de Chasse et de la Nature in Paris.  This was what they had to say about it poorly translated from the french by me: 

Like the bear, he placed himself in a state of hibernation. Like him, he ate herbaceous plants, berries, insects, honey and fruit. Placed in an artificially-induced state of drowsiness conducive to detachment and seclusion, Abraham Poincheval could meditate.  Enacting an experience of “becoming animal” the performance is also a way to reclaim time and space.  The public was able to communicate with the artist, to keep her company by making him read to them. Participatory performance.

 

See more at http://laughingsquid.com/french-artist-abraham-poincheval-is-living-inside-a-taxidermy-bear-for-13-days/

Or visit the museum's site here: http://poincheval.chassenature.org/a-propos.html

Monday
Jun232014

Do you know this elephant?

The Royal Museum for Central Africa at Tervuren in Belgium has a giant mounted bull elephant. Prepared by Rowland Ward Ltd. of Piccadilly, London, the giant beast never fails to mesmerize the onlooker.

Completed in 1957, the elephant was one of the last full mount elephants prepared by Ward's studio.  It was set up in the Belgian Congo Fauna Pavilion at the international exhibition held in Brussels in 1958, along with a selection of about twenty other large mammals. After the exposition the elephant moved to The Royal Museum for Central Africa and remains one of its most iconic exhibits.

The process of mounting the Tervuren elephant took 12 men and six months to complete.  The process was filmed, and the 45 minute documentary was later presented at the opening of the Brussels Expo'58 and further arrangement were made to screen the film in France, Switzerland, London and the United States.

However, the film is lost, or at least presumed lost, and its existence is only known through publicity stills and written descriptions.

Could it be that this unique bit of Rowland Ward history has vanished without a trace? Annick Aldo is on the hunt to find out.


Annick Aldo's website is an imaginative attempt to document the museum's natural history collection through the art of photography, providing historical facts and showing precisely the kinds of specimens the taxidermist Rowland Ward Ltd. was producing. Her aim is to trace the documentary if at all possible. 

Do you know anything about the film?  Read more about Aldo's project or to get in touch here +

Tuesday
Jun172014

How to Buy Taxidermy

A few words of advice on how to buy taxidermy from Men's Journal, Paul Rhymer, and me:

There was a time when great taxidermy was the exclusive province of hunters and natural history museum collections. A decade ago, if asked where you last saw an animal trophy, you might have mentioned a dive bar in Durango. Today, you might say "the barbershop," "the tailor," or "my friend's house." We are, after all, living through what Paul Rhymer, the last staff taxidermist at the Smithsonian, calls "the good old days of taxidermy." The craft has never been more refined and mounts have never been easier to come by. Our rapacious appetite for flannel-shirted, hunting-lodge-chic Americana has increased both supply and demand for roaring cougars and comatose moose.

"There's this ennui with all things mass produced and the thing about taxidermy is each piece comes from a genuine creature, so there's this uniqueness and highly textural beauty to it," says Rachel Poliquin, author of 'The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing.' "And taxidermy looks amazing in our hypermodern environment. It looks just as nice mounted on a cement wall next to your Barcelona Chair as it does in a traditional Victorian setting."

Read the whole article at http://www.mensjournal.com/expert-advice/how-to-buy-taxidermy-20131212

 

Friday
Feb072014

Mermaids!

A few images from Marina Rees' work with mermaids and a few fishy men ...

Friday
Feb072014

Tirpitz the Pig

A little pig snippet from The Dabbler

Porcine heroics are the order of the day for this installment of the Wikiworm, or possibly treachery, depending on which side you’re on..

Tirpitz was a pig who switched sides in WW1, after he was captured from the German Navy following a naval skirmish. He subsequently became the mascot of the cruiser HMS Glasgow.

Pigs were often kept on board warships to supply fresh meat. Tirpitz the pig was stowed below decks aboard SMS Dresden when she was ordered into the South Atlantic to join with the forces of Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee to begin raiding allied merchant shipping. SMS Dresden’s first encounter with HMS Glasgow was at the Battle of Coronel, where the German fleet was victorious. The Hun were subsequently defeated at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, though the faster Dresden managed to escape. She was located in Cumberland Bay on the Chilean island of Más a Tierra (today known as Robinson Crusoe Island), by HMS Glasgow and HMS Kent on 15 March 1915. The Germans scuttled the ship, but Tirpitz was left on board as she sank.

With terrific good fortune Tirpitz was able to make his way from the hold and swim clear of the sinking Dresden. He struck out for the nearby Royal Navy ships and was spotted an hour later by a petty officer aboard HMS Glasgow...

Read Tirpitz whole story here: http://thedabbler.co.uk/2013/05/tirpitz-the-pig/pig/

Porcine heroics are the order of the day for this installment of the Wikiworm, or possibly treachery, depending on which side you’re on..

Tirpitz was a pig who switched sides in WW1, after he was captured from the German Navy following a naval skirmish. He subsequently became the mascot of the cruiser HMS Glasgow.

Pigs were often kept on board warships to supply fresh meat. Tirpitz the pig was stowed below decks aboard SMS Dresden when she was ordered into the South Atlantic to join with the forces of Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee to begin raiding allied merchant shipping. SMS Dresden’s first encounter with HMS Glasgow was at the Battle of Coronel, where the German fleet was victorious. The Hun were subsequently defeated at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, though the faster Dresden managed to escape. She was located in Cumberland Bay on the Chilean island of Más a Tierra (today known as Robinson Crusoe Island), by HMS Glasgow and HMS Kent on 15 March 1915. The Germans scuttled the ship, but Tirpitz was left on board as she sank.

With terrific good fortune Tirpitz was able to make his way from the hold and swim clear of the sinking Dresden. He struck out for the nearby Royal Navy ships and was spotted an hour later by a petty officer aboard HMS Glasgow.

- See more at: http://thedabbler.co.uk/2013/05/tirpitz-the-pig/#sthash.W33lYjIq.dpuf
Porcine heroics are the order of the day for this installment of the Wikiworm, or possibly treachery, depending on which side you’re on..

Tirpitz was a pig who switched sides in WW1, after he was captured from the German Navy following a naval skirmish. He subsequently became the mascot of the cruiser HMS Glasgow.

Pigs were often kept on board warships to supply fresh meat. Tirpitz the pig was stowed below decks aboard SMS Dresden when she was ordered into the South Atlantic to join with the forces of Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee to begin raiding allied merchant shipping. SMS Dresden’s first encounter with HMS Glasgow was at the Battle of Coronel, where the German fleet was victorious. The Hun were subsequently defeated at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, though the faster Dresden managed to escape. She was located in Cumberland Bay on the Chilean island of Más a Tierra (today known as Robinson Crusoe Island), by HMS Glasgow and HMS Kent on 15 March 1915. The Germans scuttled the ship, but Tirpitz was left on board as she sank.

With terrific good fortune Tirpitz was able to make his way from the hold and swim clear of the sinking Dresden. He struck out for the nearby Royal Navy ships and was spotted an hour later by a petty officer aboard HMS Glasgow.

- See more at: http://thedabbler.co.uk/2013/05/tirpitz-the-pig/#sthash.W33lYjIq.dpuf
Porcine heroics are the order of the day for this installment of the Wikiworm, or possibly treachery, depending on which side you’re on..

Tirpitz was a pig who switched sides in WW1, after he was captured from the German Navy following a naval skirmish. He subsequently became the mascot of the cruiser HMS Glasgow.

Pigs were often kept on board warships to supply fresh meat. Tirpitz the pig was stowed below decks aboard SMS Dresden when she was ordered into the South Atlantic to join with the forces of Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee to begin raiding allied merchant shipping. SMS Dresden’s first encounter with HMS Glasgow was at the Battle of Coronel, where the German fleet was victorious. The Hun were subsequently defeated at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, though the faster Dresden managed to escape. She was located in Cumberland Bay on the Chilean island of Más a Tierra (today known as Robinson Crusoe Island), by HMS Glasgow and HMS Kent on 15 March 1915. The Germans scuttled the ship, but Tirpitz was left on board as she sank.

With terrific good fortune Tirpitz was able to make his way from the hold and swim clear of the sinking Dresden. He struck out for the nearby Royal Navy ships and was spotted an hour later by a petty officer aboard HMS Glasgow.

- See more at: http://thedabbler.co.uk/2013/05/tirpitz-the-pig/#sthash.W33lYjIq.dpuf
Porcine heroics are the order of the day for this installment of the Wikiworm, or possibly treachery, depending on which side you’re on..

Tirpitz was a pig who switched sides in WW1, after he was captured from the German Navy following a naval skirmish. He subsequently became the mascot of the cruiser HMS Glasgow.

Pigs were often kept on board warships to supply fresh meat. Tirpitz the pig was stowed below decks aboard SMS Dresden when she was ordered into the South Atlantic to join with the forces of Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee to begin raiding allied merchant shipping. SMS Dresden’s first encounter with HMS Glasgow was at the Battle of Coronel, where the German fleet was victorious. The Hun were subsequently defeated at the Battle of the Falkland Islands, though the faster Dresden managed to escape. She was located in Cumberland Bay on the Chilean island of Más a Tierra (today known as Robinson Crusoe Island), by HMS Glasgow and HMS Kent on 15 March 1915. The Germans scuttled the ship, but Tirpitz was left on board as she sank.

With terrific good fortune Tirpitz was able to make his way from the hold and swim clear of the sinking Dresden. He struck out for the nearby Royal Navy ships and was spotted an hour later by a petty officer aboard HMS Glasgow.

- See more at: http://thedabbler.co.uk/2013/05/tirpitz-the-pig/#sthash.W33lYjIq.dpuf
Monday
Nov182013

Walter Potter video with Pat Morris

A nice little video to accompany a new book on Walter Potter's taxidermy.  Check out and buy the book here +

Friday
Jul052013

Obsessions under glass

Check out this new book on the Victorian obsession with bottling nature up under glass.  John Whitenight, a passionate collector of Victoriana, began collecting glass domes in 1973, and this book relishes in the result.  With 650 images, the book explores not just taxidermy under glass but seashell works, wax flowers and fruit, art formed from human hair, skeleton leaves and phantom bouquets, wool work, and automata – including a monkey who smokes a cigarette! 

For more information: http://www.underglassavictorianobsession.com/index.html

Friday
Jul052013

Skeletons in the Closet? Yes please! 

Klaus Pichler's photo book SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET is now available for sale!

Shot between 2009-2012, the photo series focuses on the backstage of the Natural History Museum of Vienna, including storage rooms, basements and depots.  'Skeletons in the closet' is a collection of sometimes absurd sceneries and strange still lives, accompanied by written reflections on the bloody past of natural history museums.

 

The harbound book includes 63 images and is limited to 750 copies.  Pictures by Klaus Pichler with texts by Julia Edthofer, Herbert Justnik and Klaus Pichler. To buy and for more details: 

http://kpic.at/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=55&Itemid=112

 

Saturday
Jun292013

The Art of Living Forever 

A nice little piece about taxidermied horses from CNN's website: 

"Horsey!" scream the children staring in awe at the glossy chestnut thoroughbred towering above them.Their tiny hands press against the glass encasing Australia's most beloved race horse -- Phar Lap.

But despite their excited squealing and impatient jostling, the impressive 1.74-meter tall gelding will never lower his glassy stare in their direction. He'll never twitch his ears, flick his tail, or gallop down the race track with the remarkable speed which made him a national hero during the darkest days of the 1930s Depression.

Phar Lap has been dead for 81 years.

His body however, looks barely a day over six-years-old, frozen in time thanks to taxidermy -- the art of stuffing animal skins for display.

Read the article here + 

Tuesday
Feb262013

Göta's World, Helsinki

Göta's World has moved.  If you happen to be in Helsinki, you can find them in Tarkk'ampujankatu 4. Göta's World is the only natural history oriented antique shop in Scandinavia. Located in the heart of Helsinki, this odd antique store sells natural history items, curious antique pieces and other oddities. Bestsellers are skulls, ragged taxidermy pieces, medical antique, shells, and bits and pieces of death memorabilia. They buy their items from private collectors, garage sales, and auctions and also do repair work on decrepit and torn taxidermy mounts and broken skeletons. You'll also find various other oddities such as 1800-century rustic houshold items, insect etchings from the end of 1700-century and religious antique pieces.

Monday
Feb252013

Taxidermy fear? 

I received this letter the other day from someone with an extreme phobia of taxidermy. Does anyone else run from taxidermy? I would run from this guy.  But in all seriousness, any advice for Amelia?

"Hello, my name is Amelia, I am 18 years old. I go to Emmanuel College in Boston. I wanted to talk to you about my extreme fear of taxidermy. I was wondering if you have ever heard of this? It seems a lot of people contact you with feelings of taxidermy, positive or negative. When I see taxidermy I get severe panic attacks. I have no idea why. It started when I was 4 and I don't remember a point in my life when I wasn't scared of taxidermy. Its lead to extreme paranoia, I wont go near any "steak house" or western themed places. And I have missed out on school field trips all of my life due to this fear. I was wondering if you have heard of other people who have this fear? And if you knew anyone who has gotten over this."

Thursday
Jan312013

Immortalized

Perhaps you've already heard of AMC's new show Immortalized.  Premiering Thursday February 14th for all you lonely hearts, the show is an unscripted dive into the world of competitive taxidermy.

According to website, "each episode will feature one of four highly regarded "Immortalizers" facing off against a "Challenger" in a competition. Their task is to create a piece to be judged on three criteria: originality, craftsmanship and interpretation of the designated theme. Whether the artists are known for their classic or rogue creations, each week they will work to perfect this centuries-old art form in an unprecedented battle." For a quick peak, here is the trailer:

For more on the show, visit AMC's website here: http://www.amctv.com/shows/immortalized

Wednesday
Jan162013

A dark little twist on the inner life of hunting trophies

With a name that smacks of an Old West movie, check out Brooke Weston's strange twist on the inner world of trophy mounts. The Oregon-based artist works with recycled taxidermy and other found materials to create miniature dioramas in the heads hunting tropies.  On her website, she writes that she gathers inspiration from fairy tales, and you can tell.  For all the supposed sweetness of a cosy miniature abode, the little worlds have a darkly creepy aura.  Who lives here?

Check out Weston's website here: http://artbybrookeweston.com/index.html

Thursday
Jan102013

An artifical heart ... 

A strange little stop-motion video by taxidermy artist Fiona Campbell

The Jackdaw from Fiona Campbell on Vimeo.

Thursday
Oct182012

Laurie Young's Natural Habitat

Laurie Young just sent me this great trailer for her perfromance installation created in the Naturkundemuseum, Berlin.

Natural Habitat Trailer from Laurie Young on Vimeo.

Here's how Young describes the work:

"After looking back on the 200-year history of the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin) and likewise into the history of science, the art project Natural Habitat ventures a look into the future. What could our world look like in 200 years? Amidst a post-apocalyptic, surreal desert landscape, a woman (Homo Sapiens) finds herself surrounded by survivors belonging to other species. Both as the observer and the observed, she interacts with the animals that surround her and the changing conditions of her habitat. In the form of a “cultural field study”, the participants take up scientific findings as inspiration. For this purpose the project uses a classical medium of communication techniques employed by the scientific museum: a life size Diorama is constructed, exhibited and brought to life. In this way, the visitor becomes the observer and recognizes him/herself as contributing to processes of change. Natural Habitat can be experienced as an installation as well as a sixty-five minute performance. English and German versions are available."

Saturday
Sep012012

Breathless Zoo teaser by Michael Mills

Saturday
Sep012012

Bad Idea?

Here's a grim little article about the sad afterlives of animals at the Khan Younus zoo in the Gaza Strip.

Owner Mohammad Awaida said he opened the "South Forest Park" in 2007, only to lose a number of animals during Israel's military offensive against Hamas that began in December 2008. During the three-week offensive, launched in response to rocket attacks on Israel, Awaida said he could not reach the zoo, and many animals died of neglect and starvation.

"The idea to mummify animals started after the Gaza war because a number of animals like the lion, the tiger, monkeys and crocodiles died," he said. "So we asked around and we learned from the web how to start."

Formaldehyde and sawdust provided the basic tools, though Awaida acknowledges he is no expert.

Flies swarm around some of the ten animals that have been embalmed so far. The makeshift cages housing the exhibits — fashioned from fencing salvaged from Jewish colonies that Israel dismantled in 2005 — are littered with empty soda cans and other trash. An emaciated-looking stuffed lion, its coat patchy and mangy, lies on an exhibit cobbled together from crates and shipping pallets. A monkey had missing limbs. A porcupine had a hole in its head.
Read the whole article here: http://gulfnews.com/news/region/palestinian-territories/stuffed-animals-join-live-ones-in-gaza-zoo-1.1011591
Friday
Aug312012

Klaus Pichler's photographs from Vienna's Museum of Natural History

I just came across this article in Lens Magazine:

Klaus Pichler was wandering home from a bar one morning when he noticed a light coming from a basement window at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History.  Even at that hour, he thought, someone was hard at work inside.

But Mr. Pichler didn’t see any people. He saw an antelope.

“It looked really strange and grotesque,” he said.

And it stuck with him. So, the next morning he contacted the museum’s director, who took him on a behind-the-scenes tour. The room he’d seen was the museum’s taxidermy division.

Mr. Pichler was intrigued — and fortunate. For the next three years, the museum let him roam its corridors and  workshops,  allowing him to capture a backstage view of a highly orchestrated production. The result of his snooping, “Skeletons in the Closet,” appeared at the Delhi Photo Festival in October.

“I really enjoyed knowing that I was alone in the basement with 4,000 stuffed animals,” he said.

Read the whole article here: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/18/natural-history-not-so-natural-setting/

And check out all of Pichler's series "Skeleton in the Closet" on his website at http://www.kpic.at/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=30&Itemid=53