April 1st, 2017



 Browsing Youtube, I watched a couple of edits of The Nightwatch, the 2004 video piece in which artist Francis Alÿs released a fox into the National Portrait Gallery after hours (with the gallery's permission) and filmed its explorations with the location's CCTV cameras. The work was intended to be a statement about surveillance (the National Portrait Gallery wasn't terribly worried about the fox doing any damage, but they were the only ones willing to let their security cameras be used, because they don't hide their presence from the public like many other institutions do), but for most viewers the real fascination is watching a wild animal in a very human-centric environment. 

Recently I've seen a video of a stag in a cathedral. I wasn't sure of the reason for its presence -- a church once harboured a lioness in during Hurricane Ike, just as flamingos were placed in one of the Miami zoo's public washroomsfor safety in Hurrican Andrew. There were two videos of the event on Youtube -- the one posted in 2015 and logically the original, or closer to the original, had no music dubbed over it, just a repetitive squeaking noise -- machinery? Subsequent searching revealed it to be a test shot for another video piece, Furtherance by Leonora Hamill; the making-of video is here. I suppose none of these animals were truly wild -- the stag was apparently named Chambord, the fox Bandit, and the lioness Shackle. I don't know if the flamingos had names.