Sunday, November 18, 2012 | Categories: Episodes |
Rachel Poliquin: "Taxidermy wants time to stop. To keep life. To cherish what should have long passed from view and savour its form immortally. There is something inherently disconcerting about such insatiable, unfulfillable longings."
What do Roy Rogers' horse, Trigger, Jumbo the Barnum and Bailey circus elephant, and Dolly the cloned sheep all have in common?
They were all stuffed. Or, to be more precise, they have all been given life-after-death through the magic of taxidermy.
They share this fate with cats dressed in crinolines, ice-skating hedgehogs and gophers doing, well, all manner of things.
And with hummingbirds in nineteenth century glass cases at London's Natural
History Museum and zebras on display at the Field Museum of Natural
History in Chicago.
What is it that propels human beings to stuff the dead bodies of other animals or birds? According to the author of a new book on the subject, taxidermy is about longing -- it is a way of staving off the inevitable, of holding onto the past.
Vancouver writer and curator Rachel Poliquin presents a delightfully thorough account of a practice that spans centuries. Michael speaks to her about her passion for the subject and her remarkable new book, The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing.