Wednesday, August 3, 2016


When you work with kids and animals you have to be nothing if not flexible. In 1980 I bought a cow. I branded the cow as part of a performance at the SF alternative space- 80 Langton. Then I arranged with a friend's brother, who had a farm out in Gridley, Ca, to board the cow " for it's natural life." I had no idea how long a cow lives. A year later the cow got loose and got hit and killed by a truck. I then salted the steaks, making art objects of them. I still have a couple. The End.
   A few years back I wanted to re-visit this work. So as part of a video I was making with Eduardo Cure, I printed a neighbor's cow's nose and was ready to brand the cow, when at the last moment the branding iron was deemed not hot enough. The cow was released and not branded. Rosy was reprieved. Like I say, you have to be flexible.

The past couple of weeks I've been "performing" the site-specific installation ROOST X. This piece involved buying 24 hens from MURRAY'S CHICKENS, and 6 roosters fro MAJESTIC FARM. The rubric of the work was to have the community "adopt" the birds and live out their natural lives. But after I installed the birds in THE OLD SHUL FOR SOCIAL SCULPTURE I was informed by my more knowledgable chicken farmer friends, that there was nothing natural about my hens. Turns out these poor birds had been genetically engineered to grow so fast, that it would be decidedly inhumane to allow these birds to live and not slaughter. These were definitely FOOD not PETS.
   So I immediately had to modify my adoption certificate from "never kill" to "kill". Saved from the slaughterhouse loading dock, these 24 hens were placed in a stained glass lit, airy, roomy, ex-place of worship. They were watered, fed, bedded and well cared for under my stewardship. I'm no farmer, but it was a great experience for me. The interaction with the birds and the people who showed up either to adopt, or just out of curiosity, I wouldn't trade for anything. But now this piece is coming to a close and I have to deal. Or YOU the adoptive parents also have to deal. The six roosters are still available at $20 each. These you can let live. They are beautiful healthy Rhode Island Reds that deserve a good home. Because they left the farm, Majestic will not take them back. So you can still save their lives.
    Sadly, this is not the case with the hens. In two weeks they have grown to the size of small dinosaurs. Soon their giant breasts will make them tip over and they will develop health issues. I feel good that I gave them a couple of nice weeks in the shul. Would I have liked to  have stuck to the original version of the piece? Yes. But the fact that now you have to deal directly with killing your dinner in order to get your free collectible is not bad either. I have to deal with it also. So Saturday Aug. 6, 2016 the remaining hens and roosters of ROOST X will be transported to MAJESTIC FARM where we will humanely slaughter these birds and have a chicken bbq. The End.


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