Documenta 13 'Mock' Proposal, May 2013

Proposal Overview

A Cat Garden
Nestled within a square park, flanked by the Breitenau buildings, is a contained community of feral cats.

·         Image 1

Cats appear and disappear in and out of shrubbery. Some join you on the park benches, hide, sleep, rub against your feet, scratch, fight, cover you in hairs, yowl, climb trees, purr, stare, lick, ignore, hunt, yowl, listen, rustle, suntan, prowl, flehm, play or hiss. Deeper in the park, abound with plants, trees, greenery and cats, stands a lone fortune-teller machine. Obscured behind the glass of the dark, ornate, decrepit machine, is an automaton in the shape of a woman covered in a cloud of human and cat hair. Strewn across the shelf in front of her, is a collection of occult objects. Inserting a coin in the slot pops her eyes and mouth open, while noisily jerking her arms up, which hold a glossy, black disk. A screen is embedded within it that starts playing the film you have just paid for. A sign flashes urging you to use the headphones plugged into the machine.

·         Image 2

The 1 to 2 minute films are Frankensteins of image, object, sound and fiction, linking fantasy and reality. A microcosm of internal things, a compression of incestuous intimacy, a schizoid prism of oppression, a vessel of dark specimens is explored in ghostly visuals, layered sounds and excerpts of narrated stories. The confrontation with and experience of the artwork, is superimposed on and melded with, the experience of the location.

·         Image 3

Once a day the cats are fed by the artist and you may experience the complexity of individuals, their interactions with each other and with her. You have the option of joining in, asking questions or just observing.

Image 4

I am interested in multi-layered concepts of the subversive and occult, the dramatic, chthonic, abject, sensuous and excessive, the exotic, evocative and escapist, and ultimately “otherness” and all its insubordinate hybrids. To me, (feral) cats and “witches” are loaded symbols of these, with their shared histories of demonisation and its violent repercussions.
 “…Bretineau … function[s] as a place for the enclosure of “disobedient social subjects” and their ideas” Avery F. Gordon: Notes for the Breitenau Room of The Workhouse—a Project by Ines Schaber and Avery Gordon
Playing with these ideas, on a patch of “nature”, within the literal confines of the Bretineau, seems like a fitting contrast and an act of defiance.

“Nothing about the multispecies relationships… is emotionally, operationally, intellectually, or ethically simple for the people or clearly good or bad for the other critters” Donna Haraway, p.281
Even though the Cat Garden is a “construct” it can provide an (albeit limited) opportunity to explore the complexity of the statement above first hand, and the implications of our interactions with feral cats. The level of engagement with the community of feral felines, and the issues pertaining to this particular phenomenon of “non-conformity” common to most global cities, will be a choice made by individual members of the “audience”.
“We “hail” [animals] into our constructs of nature and culture, with major consequences of life and death, health and illness, longevity and extinction.” Donna Haraway, p.278

·         Image 5

Logisitics, Maintenance and Budget
Permission will have to be procured for the setting up of the Cat Garden, with secure borders containing the cats, shelter, feeding stations and the planting of trees and plants. Careful consideration of the long-term welfare of the cats, and their impact on the local environment, animals and birds, would have to be discussed with the appropriate organisations. Liaising would further have to include decisions regarding where the neutered cats came from, how many cats would the space allow and their transportation, among others.
Ideally, the audience would be able to participate in such discussions if they chose to, and have an opportunity to play an active role with decisions ranging from whether to distribute cat collars with bells (to warn birds), to donating for operations, feeding, fostering, euthanisation and adoption. This would be done in a discreet manner, where the artist, The Worldly Companions and/or other members of animal welfare organizations would be available to assist but not in any way hustle the audience. Money from the fortune-teller machine would go to such donations.
The mechanics of the fortune-teller machine would have to be checked daily to see that it is running smoothly. Below, is some information on Zoltar the fortune-teller machine that would have to be customized for this artwork (which would include the machine playing a selection of 10 to 15 films in rotation):
Zoltar Fortune Teller -Stands over 6' tall, and casts both spoken and printed fortunes to its spellbound customers!  Very similar to the magical, mystical and extremely rare "Zoltan" 1969 Prophetron Fortune Teller as seen in the 1988 hit movie "Big" with Tom Hanks. A beauty to behold, Zoltar is richly detailed with a handlebar mustache, beard, a gold head wrap, gold shirt, paisley vest and jewelry, and the bust of Zoltar stands in a solid wheeled cabinet of oak with birch veneers, finished in gold-and black-painted trim, surrounded by three panes of tempered glass. 

Patrons insert a coin to start the unit, and then the animated spoken Fortune Telling Show starts ! Zoltar provides 16 different spoken fortunes, and dispenses one of 23 different Fortune Cards up front at end, and comes with a Quality Cabinet, Tempered Glass, Dual Coin Acceptors and 2000 Fortune Cards. Can also be customized, from colors, characters, messages to lettering, and Fortune Cards can also be customized.

·         Image 6

Deluxe Model $ 6875
has all the features of the Economy Model in a larger cabinet with ornate trim PLUS Extended Talking (Jaw moves to words as character speaks), Head Movement (up and down) and Arm Movement (Side to Side and Over the Lighted Ball) 

Also available is a Wireless Microphone with a range of about 50 feet that allows you to speak live remotely through your cabinet character and at the same time to hear what people say to the character in real time !

Optional Wireless Microphone Kit : Add $695
Optional Dollar Bill Acceptor (DBA) : Add $375
Optional Programmable LED Sign : Add $250
Optional Cabinet Mounted Wheels  : Add $45
Additional Fortune Cards (500 Pack) : Add $50

Deluxe Model Dimensions:
Height: 77", Width: 33", Depth: 27, Weight: 325 Lbs 


Image 1: Cat Garden

Image 2*An approximation of the fortune-teller based on previous work (sculpture)

Image 3: Film Still

Image 4: Feral Cat Colony

Image 5: Cat 

Image 6: Zoltar
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