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Label: aspen art museum

Wednesday 20th August 2014Art Animals

We sure do seem to get the strange ones, don't we? Just after we posted our recent Artist Spotlight on Cai Guo-Qiang, a piece caught our eye from the very same artist, although with a slightly more argumentative tone than our own. The famous Chinese artist has recently debuted an installation piece at the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, and it's not the ire of the Chinese government he's aroused this time, but rather that of some American animal rights activists. The installation piece, has some rather unexpected components: namely, three tortoises. Three tortoises with Apple iPads attached to their backs. Yes, you read that correctly.

The piece is entitled 'Moving Ghost Town', and the tortoises wander around with the iPads in tow throughout the rooftop sculpture garden, a feature of the museum which has been added as part of a $45 million dollar building that has recently opened, designed by celebrated Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. The tortoises are African Sulcata tortoises, and they appear to be in perfect health, despite the protestations of the animal rights activists who want the trio of tortoises to be trucked towards a shelter. However, it has transpired that the three were rescued (though from what is not mentioned) from an Arizona breeder, meaning all are captive-bred and not wild caught specimens. The tortoises are regularly checked by an accomplished veterinarian on a regular basis, and the local Turtle Conservancy has apparently been consulted as well.  

And so what, do you ask, are the iPads showing, exactly? They're showing footage of three ghost towns - film that was shot by the tortoises themselves. Or, rather, shot by cameras mounted on them as they wandered through the empty streets and decaying buildings under the watchful eye of Cai Guo-Qiang. Presumably, the cameras were mounted using the same non-toxic silicone adhesive that is used to hold the current iPads in place, as it leaves no residue and causes no damage to the shells once removed. The animals appear to be in perfect health, as the negligible amount of weight to carry doesn't inconvenience them in the slightest.

Regardless, it's interesting to see how this will play out. Art and activism often go hand in hand so regularly, it will be curious to see what happens when they come to blows. A petition from concerned activists has gathered over 1000 signatures at the time of writing, but the Aspen Art Museum seems unmoved, and simply appreciates the extra publicity!

Posted on August 20th 2014 on 03:04am
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