Pigeon Holed

Early in December I was contacted by Allison Feldish in regard to a show she was curating at Extra Extra Gallery in Philadelphia with International artist Abbas Akhavan, among others.  A brief description of the show, called “So Far, So Good”, from the Extra Extra website:

Extra Extra presents SO FAR SO GOOD, an exhibition of work examining the elements of uncertainty brought forth by recent social, political and environmental upheaval worldwide. Addressing concerns from global economics and capitalism, to political violence and surveillance, the conversation between the artists is presented on a platform of poetic inquiry and investigation. Each was selected to acknowledge the feelings of uneasiness, absurdity, hopefulness, despair, humor, paranoia, and earnest defiance that pervades our present day experience. The work and artists represented are not necessarily providing concrete answers, but asking questions and presenting choices.

Abbas, a multi-talented artist who also dabbles in taxidermy, has a mounted messenger pigeon piece which is integral to his contribution to the show.  When attempting to navigate the red tape involved with shipping a piece of art such as this over international borders (Abbas currently resides in Canada), the artist and curator came to the conclusion that the papers, fees, etc, required to make this happen would exceed the cost of simply paying a local taxidermist to alter an already existing pigeon form, which you see above.  Below is the pigeon mounted by Abbas:

Pretty great job, I say.  Again, here is the pigeon I was to transform into the one mounted by Abbas:

The main difference between the two birds is the angle of the neck and head.  Also of note would be the eyes, which are black glass bulbs on the one I received but closed and detailed on the original.  Thirdly, I would have to reposition the feet.

Clearly I had my work cut out for me.

I began by wetting the areas in question to make them a wee bit more malleable.  Once I’d worked out the exact spot and angle of the cut, I went ahead.

This had better work.

Diamond Tooth Taxidermy

I needed to not only replace the head so it was arched back, but also turned to the side.  This proved more difficult than I’d anticipated, but I ploughed ahead.  Here it is, most of the way back on.  At this point I’d also began to rework the eyes.

The feathers were understandably a bit ruffled and confused as to where they were to lay after being turned about like that, so I let the whole thing dry with a compression sock on for 30 hours.  After that I inserted and glued, one by one, teeny feathers from the portion of neck I’d removed into any areas that needed filling.

I added more “skin” to make up the eyelids, after painting the pupils on, and voila:

Oh yes, and I repositioned the legs, which gave me a bit of grief but I showed them no mercy.

The show opened last Friday and is up until the 12th of February.  While I didn’t make the opening and have yet to see the dupe in action, I intend to go this weekend and check it out.  I invite you to do the same, should you be in the Philly area!

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